Don’t cry for me Argentina

Monday, 17 September 2012 01:09 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The final score sheet indicates that the Wallabies beat the Pumas. Unfortunately for those who did not watch the game, that will be the only statistic in their mind.

For most parts of the game, the Pumas were on top and definitely looked the better side on the day. They did almost everything right except hold on to their lead and win the game. At the end of the game the Wallabies sighed a combined sense of relief as opposed to the elation and jubilation of a Test match that was won. That included the under fire coach Robbie Deans who for now appears to be living by the day.

I foresee a premature end to his coaching career with the Wallabies, if this stop/start approach of the team continues. As I had said before there has been the captain’s curse and Nathan Sharpe almost succumbed to it. He lay motionless in the field so much so that the referee deemed it fit to stop play so that the medics could attend to him. However the veteran shrugged it off and was soon in the thick of things.

Man of the Match was Australia’s Pat McCabe who produced a superb individual display and was instrumental both in defence and attack. Maybe he had to make a point having being yellow carded earlier in the game for a tackle on a player without the ball. His tackle on the Pumas winger Gonzalo Camacho in the opening minutes of the game to prevent a near-certain try was mercurial only to be undone by the sin binning.

Wallaby # No.8 Radike Samo was not his usual self and the fact that the selectors continue with him indicates that paucity of quality players to fill this role. When in full flight Samo is difficult to stop and makes valuable yards and is considered a good ball carrier. However this weekend was not his day as he failed to ground the ball for a try that would have set the stage for a Wallabies to move further.

The Argentinian team as a whole must be applauded for their ability to hold their own in the Rugby Championship and their defence was rock solid. Once again there has been a renewed call for a greater authority to be given to the TMO so that they could adjudicate on the try scoring process including the build up to it. If this had been in place, the Puma’s second try would not have been allowed due to a foot in touch in the build-up by Juan Imhoff. It was missed by the assistant referee Nigel Owens but the TMO should have been allowed to intervene in the spirit of the game. Had the Wallabies lost this game, this controversy would have gathered further momentum.

In the other game, the All Blacks pulled ahead in the last quarter thereby denying the Boks of a losing bonus point. The Boks game plan of kicking over the three quarters was read well by the All Blacks with the winger dropping back a notch and full back Dagg languishing well behind to smother this move. At the post match interview the Boks did concede that they kicked away possession once too often and did not have a realistic chance of gathering the ball after such deep kicks. In the first few minutes of the game, the Boks had worked the ball for what should have been a routine scoring pass to Bryan Habana, but the pass simply sailed into touch as if it was intended for the assistant referee as opposed to the safe hands of Habana.

The All Black skipper, Richie McCaw can be a real pain in the neck at the breakdowns, but the action of replacement prop Dean Greyling taking a cheap shot on him was foolhardy and earned him a ten minute rest in the bin and gave the All Blacks three points. The Boks fly half may have played his last game for them for a while with his abysmal goal kicking as well as his rather poor performance in the # 10 jersey.

Bryan Habana’s reminded all of us of his class with a superb burst of speed breaking the rock solid All Blacks’ defensive line before he produced a transcendent chip over the last line of defence and thereafter chased it down at full speed and crash down in the corner. Nobody in the stadium would argue that this was a work of a master. There will be no games next weekend, and this will provide the various camps to map out their future plans. The Wallabies and the Boks have some serious soul searching in the days ahead.



(The writer can be reached via Scrumaf@gmail.com.)

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