Pretending to contend

SATURDAY night's ugly loss to the Irish exposed the Wallabies as pretenders to the 2011 Rugby World Cup crown.

Their inability to put away an aging but passionate Ireland demonstrated the team doesn't have the rugby smarts to win a tournament-style competition.

The Australians could not adjust their tactics when it became obvious they were playing into Ireland's strengths. They consistently turned over the ball by getting into driving mauls where the Irish employed their tactic of sealing off the ball and winning the scrum feed. They also kicked away far too much ball when they should have been running their older opponents off their feet.

It was the scrum that was the difference between the two teams. The Wallabies conceded five penalties at scrum time and the goals kicked from scrum penalties were the difference between the teams.

It is now obvious that a team that has a powerful scrum, organised defence and plays with passion is too big a hurdle for the men in gold.

While referee Bryce Lawrence has attracted some criticism for his performance, the Irish deserved the scrum dominance.

Where the referee fell down was allowing far too much time-wasting from the Irish. At every break in play an Irish forward received treatment. After the third time it was obvious what they were up to. The referee should have been firmer with the Irish. Play should have gone on, or the Irish player had to be replaced. Seeing prop forwards with ice packs on their necks when they should have been playing was not a good look for the game.



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