Player ratings: The bitter taste of defeat
OPINION: The Wallabies entered their match with Scotland sitting on five straight victories and there would have been plenty of confidence Australia could arrest their two-match losing streak against the home side.
It wasn’t to be, however, with Scotland triumphing 15-13 in a match that lacked tries but didn’t lack some positive rugby.
There were few standouts across the park for the Wallabies, with no one embarrassing themselves but no one really asserting themselves either.
Tom Vinicombe rates the Australian players:
1. James Slipper – 6
Penalised once in each half at the scrum for hinging. Showed good versatility to switch from the loosehead side of the scrum to the tighthead for a three minute period in the second half, with the Wallabies scoring from the only scrum during the period, then shifted there permanently once Allan Alaalatoa was ushered off the pitch following a head knock. Managed to get his carry and support game going in the second half.
2. Folau Fainga’a – 7
A 100 per cent, 10 from 10 effort delivering the ball into the lineout. Popped up around the field on a few occasions on attack and was busy on defence. Stupidly reached over the ruck to try to nab the ball when Scotland were hot on attack, despite the ruck clearly already being formed. Lucky not to receive a yellow. Conceded a penalty for getting offside when defending the line.
3. Allan Alaalatoa – 2
Earned an early scrum penalty against his opposite but then conceded an advantage and a penalty himself at the set-piece before the first half was up. Showed soft hands when used in the middle of the backline. But his biggest impact on the game came from leading with a closed fist into the breakdown and connecting with Matt Fagerson. It may have been minor contact, but a yellow card was inevitable, and it scrubbed away the Wallabies’ first try. Off in 56th minute.
4. Rory Arnold – 6
Busy in the set-piece, taking the most lineouts of any Wallaby before he was substituted, but was rarely sighted elsewhere. A tidy re-introduction to test rugby, if not spectacular. Off in the 50th minute.
5. Izack Rodda – 7.5
Disrupted Scotland’s line-out and was able to get one clean steal towards the end of the game. Showed good pace to chase a few high balls throughout. The top Australian tackler.
6. Rob Leota – 6.5
More than happy to hit the ball up from line-outs and ran an excellent line to crash over for the Wallabies’ first try in the 45th minute. Rushed up to disrupt Scotland on attack but was pinged for being offside. Useful on defence. Off in the 60th minute.
7. Michael Hooper – 7
Almost scored the Wallabies’ first try, stretching out to get the ball over the line, but Alaalatoa’s yellow card negated it. Penalised once at the breakdown for illegal pilfering but also won one for his team in the first half. Ended up covering the backfield at one stage in the final 10 minutes.
8. Rob Valetini – 5
A very mixed performance. Made a key ankle tap on Duhan van der Merwe to slow down the Scotland break early in the second half. Forced Hamish Watson over the sideline after Scotland had pilfered the ball at the end of the third quarter, then forced a breakdown penalty a few minutes later. Still finished the game with as many missed tackles as completed ones. Didn’t really feature on attack. Spent eight minutes off the park when Alaalatoa was yellow-carded.
9. Nic White – 7
Passing wasn’t up to his usual standard early on, with a few players having to pick the ball up off their boot laces, but came right as the match progressed. Did throw one excellent line-ball to Leota for the Wallabies’ first try. Made a great cover tackle on Duhan van der Merwe in the 55th minute as the Scotland wing charged towards the try-line. Off in 67th minute.
10. James O’Connor – 5
Relatively composed but unsurprisingly looked short of minutes. Shanked his first kick at goal from a handy position. Line-kicking for penalties was generally assured but made one unforgivable error, missing touch from a penalty with just minutes to play. Twice put in well-weighted attacking kicks in the first half to get the Wallabies on the front foot.
11. Jordan Petaia – 3
Added some nice impetus whenever he tucked the ball and ran but didn’t feature much before he left the field with an injury in the 39th minute.
12. Hunter Paisami – 5
Still not quite the rock that the Wallabies need in the midfield. A missed tackle on Stuart Hogg in the 15th minute could have proved costly, with Scotland breaking 50 metres up the field and almost scoring. Penalised (somewhat harshly) during the next Wallabies attack, deep inside Scotland’s 22, for not immediately releasing the ball following a tackle. Also penalised for an over-zealous ruck clean-out (again, somewhat harshly). Made a huge play in the 51st minute, putting a bit shot on Ali Price and then getting back up on his feet to earn a penalty for his side.
13. Len Ikitau – 6
Generally maintained his high standards on defence, snuffing out a few wide balls. Threw a needless offload early in the first half to concede possession after Australia had found themselves in a handy attacking position courtesy of a charge-down. Neat left foot kick earned the Wallabies a 50/22.
14. Tom Wright – 8
On four separate occasions forced turnovers from Scotland. Showed nice cover defence to shepherd Darcy Graham over the sideline early in the match. Somehow managed to snuff out an overlap when Scotland were threatening the line in the 55th minute, grabbing Hogg’s pass out of the air. Wrapped Hogg up moments later and dislodged the ball to prevent another potential try. Chased a Nic White kick and forced Scotland over the sideline again in the final quarter to round out an excellent defensive display. Also chased down James O’Connor’s offensive clearing kick at the end of the first quarter and tackled Hogg in-goal to earn the Wallabies a five-metre scrum. Generally safe under the high ball but did also concede one stupid penalty for hassling Hogg and preventing the fullback from making a quick throw. Off in 67th minute.
15. Andrew Kellaway – 6
Looked confident returning the myriad kicks from Ali Price, Finn Russell and Hogg. Was stripped of the ball once on the carry. Moved to the wing once Kurtley Beale joined the match.
16. Connal McInerney – N/A
On in 74th minute. Helped the Wallabies win a scrum penalty seconds later. 2/2 lineout.
17. Angus Bell – 5
Made a 3-minute cameo in the 43rd minute when Taniela Tupou left the field and Alaalatoa was sin-binned. On permanently in the 56th minute. Struggled at scrum time, penalised once.
18. Taniela Tupou – N/A
On in 38th minute. Immediately shored up the scrum, even though the Wallabies were a man down in the forwards, and earned his men an advantage. Left the field in the 43rd minute after clashing heads with Sam Johnson and wasn’t sighted again.
19. Will Skelton – 5
On in 50th minute. Made one upright carry that could have been punished, but had the power to get to ground. Adding bulk to the set-piece but didn’t have the impact that many would have been hoping for.
20. Pete Samu – 5
On in 60th minute. A useful addition to the lineout late in the game but otherwise rarely sighted.
21. Tate McDermott – N/A
On in 67th minute.
22. Kurtley Beale – N/A
On in 67th minute. Made some nice metres with his first touch of the ball, though almost got held up by the defence. Did get held up with his next carry.
23. Izaia Perese – 6
On in 39th minute. A great first carry in the second half paved the way for Leota’s try. Put a nice shot on Matt Fagerson shortly after to force a mistake when Scotland were closing in on a score. Showed good strength to almost force replacement Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman over the sidelines at the end of the third quarter. Had the ball stripped off a midfield carry early in the final quarter.
By Tom Vinicombe, @RugbyPass