So now we’ve had time for a breather after the Wallabies’ defeat to Wales, it has to be conceded – the smarter team won a thrilling, exasperating Test.
It was the slow-to-start, not-particularly-bright Wallabies who turned up for the first half – the ones we see far too often, the ones who played Fiji.
Sure, a couple of referee/television match official decisions didn’t help, but by the time the ‘bloody-hell-this-is-serious-let’s-attack-like-stink’ Wallabies were on, the Welsh lead was too great to haul in.
And even then, in the last 10 minutes or so when a victory for the ages was possible, the confident, ‘damn-the-torpedoes-we’re-clearly-superior’ Wallabies weren’t quite there.
For the fans and, in particular, the coach to focus on the highly dubious Samu Kerevi penalty is to blame shift. (Nobody wants to focus on Michael Hooper escaping without a card for dropping his shoulder into Daniel Biggar.)
The Kerevi fend with his hand on Rhys Patchell’s collarbone had nothing to do with the two field goals or the dumb penalty that gave the advantage for the first Welsh try or the intercept try.
There are suspicions about whether Gareth Davies was onside when he started his run for that intercept, but no televised footage I could find proved it.
The Wallabies didn’t ask the ref to check it and that Davies nearly pulled off another one suggests he is very quick and the Wallabies were predictable.
It is depressingly easy to point out the glaring refereeing inconsistencies, none better that All Blacks captain Kieran Read attaining the infamous Cloak of Invisibility for a blatant head shot against South Africa.
Will Kieran Read be cited later today?
— RugbyInsideline (@RugbyInsideLine) September 22, 2019
Of course Read wasn’t cited, despite the video being widely discussed.
And for a little compare-and-contrast exercise, there’s Beauden Barrett’s forearm special.
Pictorial essay question: Please discuss the regard in which both teams are held by the powers that be in the World of Rugby as succinctly as possible…… https://t.co/Pac1W5zVbG
— Morgan Turinui (@MorganTurinui) September 29, 2019
But it’s convenient for coach Cheika to concentrate on the refereeing.
They didn’t produce a team that didn’t show any hint of rat cunning, or wily deception, of surprise tactics, of we-haven’t-seen-that-before.
The refs don’t force the Wallabies to consistently kick beyond the range of their too-few chasers, meekly handing over possession a bit further down the field.
And the refs aren’t responsible for our problem at five-eighth.
I thought Cheika was right to pick the Bernard Foley horse for the Welsh course. Looks like I was wrong.
On the other hand, our set pieces were good, not that we received any recognition from the ref for our scrum.
Our lineout was superior.
And when the Wallabies who bring joy to their fans turned up, they were great.
They’re the Wallabies who can beat anyone on the day.
They’re the ones who can beat England in the quarter-finals.
But England has a wily coach. England is unlikely to field a dumb side.
It should be another great test, in both meanings of the word.