Player ratings: Heartbreak for Wallabies
OPINION: The Wallabies hosted the All Blacks at Docklands Stadium in front of a sell-out Melbourne crowd on Thursday. Nine players born or playing in Melbourne were named in Dave Rennie’s side after the Wallabies coach made a raft of changes for the first game in the Bledisloe Series.
It was a disastrous start for the Wallabies, who botched the receiving kick-off as they mistimed the jump and it sailed over Jed Hollaway’s head. The All Blacks trucked up in close to the Wallabies’ tryline and opened the scoring through a crash over the line through Samisoni Taukei’aho.
It looked like the All Blacks would run away with the game when the Wallabies were yellow-carded twice within minutes of each other but the Wallabies climbed back into the match through two tries to Andrew Kellaway and a stunner by Pete Samu. When Nic White nailed a 49-metre penalty kick it looked like the game was in the Wallabies’ hands, but a bizarre call for time wasting against Bernard Foley in the 78th minute gifted the All Blacks a final chance and they took it. Jordan Barrett scored in the final minute of the game to give the All Blacks the victory.
Here’s how the Wallabies rated:
1. James Slipper – 5/10
Felt the pressure at scrum time early in the game, conceding a penalty against his opposition. Worked his way back into the game after winning a couple of penalties against the head. Managed the game well as skipper, taking points when they were on offer and chancing their luck when the momentum was going their way. Suffered an injury early in the first half and didn’t return for the test of the game.
2. Dave Porecki – 5
Was solid at lineout time and coordinated some clever plays to confuse the All Blacks jumpers. Offered dynamism around the ruck, often playing the ball out the back to his fellow forwards. Subbed in the 57th minute.
3. Allan Alaalatoa – 7
Won an important scrum penalty in the first half that saw a shift in momentum towards the Wallabies. Was influential in arresting the ascendency of the All Blacks in the scrum to set the platform for the Wallabies. Continues to be an ironman for the Wallabies, assuming the captaincy from Slipper and playing 72 minutes.
4. Jed Holloway – 5
Asked to play lock for the first time in a Wallabies jersey, and it took time for him to adjust. Botched the very first play of the game by mistiming his jump and letting the ball sail over his head. Made a lot of tackles and worked hard hitting it up off the ruck. Was asked to switch to flanker as cover for Leota and lasted the 80 minutes.
5. Matt Philip – 5
Did the hard work around the ruck and in defence but couldn’t impose himself on the game. Never truly tested the All Blacks at lineout time. Was subbed off in the 51st minute.
6. Rob Leota – 5.5
In front of his home city the flanker made some impressive metres in hit-ups and put on some telling shots. He was also an option in the lineout as the Wallabies looked to mix up the picture. Unfortunately succumbed to injury late in the first half and was replaced by Darcy Swain.
7. Pete Samu – 7
Contested early at the breakdown and won a turnover for his team. Found himself in wide open spaces in the first half through a pick and go off the ruck to pin the All Blacks in their 22. Used his footwork to beat defenders and was used regularly at lineout time. Tied up the game for the Wallabies in the 75th minute with a try to give his team a chance.
8. Rob Valetini – 7
He was the main Wallabies forward tasked with getting his team over the advantage line. Carried hard in the tight channels. Almost set up Koroibete when he regathered the ball and put a grubber in downfield. Scored in the 25th minute to get the Wallabies back in the game. Won a crucial turnover with four minutes to go with the game on the line.
9. Jake Gordon – 5.5
Some poor game management let him down when the Wallabies. Made an important stop on Taukei’aho to deny him his second try just before halftime. Box kicking in the second half put pressure on the All Blacks. Was dubiously sent off for the Wallabies’ third yellow card of the night.
10. Bernard Foley – 7
Looked calm and collected and orchestrated a nice backline move in the first half. Grew as the game went on. Challenged the line at times probing for a breakthrough, and finally found a gap to put in Kellaway for his first try. The only blemish was a knock-on in the first half. Kicked four from four off the boot.
11. Marika Koroibete – 6
Put a massive shot on Caleb Clarke to pin the All Blacks in their 22. Followed it up with a barnstorming run that saw him shed six attempted tackles. Worked hard to cover ground but missed some crucial tackles. Set up Samu’s with a beautiful interchange of passing.
12. Lalakai Foketi – 6
Was a solid performance by the inside centre, who plugged the tight channels in defence and went hard at the breakdown. Won a key penalty getting over the ball to relieve pressure on the Wallabies and returning them to the full compliment.
13. Len Ikitau – 6.5
Continues to fly under the radar but it was another assured performance from the young outside centre. He was the glue that held the backline together and made hard carries through the middle of the field. Subbed in the 53rd minute.
14. Tom Wright – 5
Didn’t front up in defence when it was asked of him. Was given a yellow card for deliberately slowing the ball down in the ruck when the All Blacks were hot on attack.
15. Andrew Kellaway – 6.5
Was on the receiving end of a clever backline move but the strength of Rieko Ioane and his own hubris prevented him from grounding the ball over the try line. Made up for it with two-try second half within five minutes of each other. Struggled to cover the backfield when the Wallabies received two yellow cards at the same time and was peppered with high balls from the All Blacks. Did make some important defensive reads.
16. Folau Fainga’a – 5
Came on in the 60th minute and was subsequently dump-tackled by Tyrel Lomax. Followed it up with a wayward lineout throw. Finally got the lineout in good shape when it mattered.
17. Scott Sio – 6.5
Entered the fray to replace Slipper at halftime and battled well at scrum time against his opposition prop.
18. Pone Fa’amausili – N/A
On in the 72th minute to make his debut in front of his home crowd.
19. Darcy Swain – 5
Within the first minute of coming on, he was yellow-carded. When he returned he added some starch to the forward pack and was good in the air at lineout time.
20. Fraser McReight – 5
Entered the fray in the 55th minute. Contested hard at the breakdown but didn’t overplay his hands.
21. Nice White – 6.5
Came on as cover for the Gordon yellow card in the 53rd minute. Controlled the game well and it coincided with the Wallabies gaining the ascendancy. Knocked over a penalty goal from 49 metres out to nudge the Wallabies in front in the 76th minute.
22. Reece Hodge – N/A
Didn’t get on.
23. Jordan Petaia – N/A
Entered the game in the 62nd minute but was given limited opportunities.