Player Ratings: Winning is a habit
OPINION: The Wallabies opened their northern tour account with a 32–23 victory of Japan at the Showa Denko Dome in Oita.
It was a lacklustre performance by the Australians who appeared to have allowed past sins to creep back into the game, namely inaccuracy at the breakdown, needless kicking, poor execution in the attacking lineout at crucial times and an unhealthy obsession with cut-out passing.
The positives are that the tourists have now strung together five wins in a row and only appear to have one injury concern in Reece Hodge who was forced from the field early in the match with a shoulder injury.
The Wallabies move onto the European leg of their tour and will be better for this test match against the spirited and skilled Japanese side.
Nick Turnbull rates the Wallabies players
1. James Slipper – 7/10
Was dominant at set piece and that allowed the Wallabies to secure several penalties. Furthermore, he was industrious in general play and put in a respectable shift.
2. Folau Fainga’a – 7
A fair effort on both sides of the ball and his scrum was solid yet there remain issues with Australia’s lineout when on attack. He should not carry that burden alone but must shoulder some responsibility. However, all-in-all, he was solid.
3. Taniela Tupou – 7
Dominated his scrum as expected and grew into the game. His try off a lineout move was one for the highlight reel as he burst into space off the inside pass and despite having defence around him nothing was stopping him from securing his side five points.
4. Izack Rodda – 6.5
A decent effort, yet I was expecting him to dominate the lineout more than he actually did. Worked himself hard around the park yet he has better rugby in him.
5. Matt Philip – 7
A consistent performance but what impressed outside of his usual duties in the lineout was his ball running and his ability to offload.
6 Rob Leota – 7
Gave us a glimpse of how good he might be in the future with some bullocking runs, and the ferocity at which he chased some of Nic White’s box kick’s is enthusing. A credible shift topped off with a try.
7. Michael Hooper (captain) – 7
A quiet performance by his standards. We didn’t see the linking game we have been accustomed to, yet he worked himself in and around the breakdown, as he was required to due to the Japanese asking plenty of questions in that aspect of play.
8. Rob Valetini – 7.5
Australia’s best forward. Made a number of telling runs but was also equally impressive in defence. A highlight was his work with Hunter Paisami in defence near the end of the match to secure a turnover quashing any chance a Japanese win.
9. Nic White – 7.5
His game management was generally sound. Never really put his side under any pressure and executed well, especially his kicking. His support play was also worth mentioning and his decision to chip ahead after supporting back on the inside of a Len Ikitau break was a brave but sound decision that ultimately set up the try for Rob Leota out wide on the left flank.
10. Quade Cooper – 7
Not his best day, to be fair. He had some wonderful moments but was guilty of throwing a long pass that simply wasn’t on and ended in an intercept try to the Japanese, which stifled the Wallabies momentum. On the positive side, he was staunch in defence and brave under the high ball.
11. Andrew Kellaway – 6
A quiet performance. I would have liked to have seen a little more effort to impose himself in the match and though moving to 15 after the Reece Hodge injury may have facilitated such.
12. Hunter Paisami – 7.5
A tremendous defensive performance. The Japanese simply could get past him. While his attack had some forgettable moments, he was a rock for Australia to build on in defence.
13. Len Ikitau – 7
Had some touches in possession that simply leave you amazed at his ability to shuffle and stay square which, coupled with his vision and skills, ensures he is some talent. The issue is he isn’t getting enough ball in the right spaces and he should be looking to impose himself more on proceedings. Some work on defence as well as he can drop off a tackle.
14. Tom Wright – 7.5
His best performance in a Wallabies jumper. He made a few errors but stayed in the game and was a threat with the ball in hand, securing Australia’s first try. What warmed the heart the most was his chasing game, effectively charging down kicks, and putting the Japanese back three under pressure was a highlight today.
15. Reece Hodge – N/A
Left injured early in the match.
16. Connal McInerney – 6.5
A try on debut off a driving maul from his own lineout. A dream start to his test career.
17. Angus Bell – 6.5
Had a tough time of it early on upfront and was guilty of some wayward passing, but did return serve with some solid scrummaging towards the end
18. Allan Alaalatoa – 6
Solid without being spectacular.
19. Darcy Swain – 6
Guilty of some sloppy handling.
20. Pete Samu – 7
Australia’s most shrewd and direct forward. Took it through the middle and showed the Wallabies the way when they were looking a bit lateral in attack.
21. Tate McDermott – 6
Was his energetic self, as usual, and helped the Wallabies close it out with some astute decision making.
22. James O’Connor – N/A
Not on for long enough.
23. Jordan Petaia – 7
He was a handful for the Japanese. Was strong with the restarts and in attacking the line. If only he had more space to work with, but not at the cost of anymore cut out passes!
By Nick Turnbull, Rugbypass