Player Ratings: Hard times
OPINION: It’s a difficult time to back Wales. Their brilliant win over Argentina feels like a lifetime ago because, as Wayne Pivac says, seven days is a long time in rugby – let alone fourteen. On the back of a loss to Georgia, Wayne Pivac rolled in a handful of changes to take on a scratch Wallabies side.
In the end it was the most confusing test match ever. Wales delivered their best 60 minutes under Pivac, then imploded in the last 20. Australia were far from their best, and Wales clutched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Will Owen rates the Welsh players:
15. Josh Adams – 7
Clobbered by Gleeson early on but responded brilliantly. Looked really sharp in attack and made a crucial turnover in the Welsh 22. Dropped a ball in the lead up to Nawaqanitawase’s try, and put a kick out on the full – these things are suddenly under the microscope when you lose.
14. Alex Cuthbert – 3.5
Pretty poor, didn’t do much with the ball. If you were being picky you could argue he should’ve put Nawaqanitawase into touch for his try, then was later put into touch himself.
13. George North – 5
Looked good on the ball and sorted out any defensive errors he made last week. Made a great read with 10 minutes to go. Generally quite quiet.
12. Joe Hawkins – 8
Had a few good touches early on and has an instinct to distribute. Looked calm on debut and gave Wales the variety they have lacked since Hadleigh Parkes retired from internationals.
11. Rio Dyer – 7
Dyer has shown his pace on the wing, but today he looked comfortable in midfield. His touch for Faletau’s try was exquisite. Nearly scored towards the end of the first half then got the goods in the second. Well deserved.
10. Gareth Anscombe – 6.5
Managed the attack well and kicked his goals. Pulled the strings superbly for Dyer’s try, throwing a beautiful miss-ball.
21. Kieran Hardy – 7
Came on for Williams early and put in a belting kick from a restart. Made the right calls and kicked when he needed to.
1. Gareth Thomas – 7.5
Had a difficult first scrum but dominated thereafter. Thomas is in a rich vein of form.
2. Ken Owens – 7
Typically brilliant in the carry and solid at set piece.
3. Dillon Lewis – 7
Won a few penalties at the end of the first half – nearly got Slipper binned, then gave Tom Robertson a sit down in the second half. Was substituted at the right time as Australia emptied the bench.
4. Adam Beard – 5.5
Started the game with a really poor knock-on. Was a nuisance in pressuring Tate McDermott in the second half and had a few nice touches.
5. Alun-Wyn Jones – 8
Made a huge difference. Made two fantastic offloads in the lead-up to Jac Morgan’s opening try, and one prior to Faletau’s. One of Wales’ best players before everything went out of the window.
6. Jac Morgan – 8
Cannot be stopped. Showed great leg drive for both of his tries and looked brilliant in defence. Definitely someone Wales will see much more of in the future.
7. Justin Tipuric – 5
Led well from the front and made good decisions as captain with Wales on the front foot. But speaking of feet… his foot-trip on Samu was a professional foul and cost Wales. Ultimately, that gave Australia their “in” to the game and costs his score!
8. Taulupe Faletau – 7.5
The 100-cap legend marked his big day with a beautiful finish on an outstanding try. Faletau has been the most reliable player on at least 90 of his 100 caps. Perplexing as to why he was substituted.
16. Ryan Elias – 2
His sin-binning was equally as costly as Tipuric’s. Great player, but his action ultimately lost Wales the game.
17. Rhodri Jones – N/A
No significant impact.
18. Tom Francis – 3
Went backwards at scrum time.
19. Ben Carter – N/A
No significant impact.
20. Josh MacLeod – N/A
22. Rhys Priestland – 4
Made a couple of good decisions but ultimately lacked the instinct to close out the game from a favourable position.
By Will Owen, @RugbyPass