442. From The Couch: Match #17

Australia 65 – 3 Uruguay

After the England-Wales drama of last night, this match from the same Pool A had a different sort of interest: how is Australia travelling towards the big matches with England and Wales?

The caveats to the answer are that this was very much the second-string Aussie forward pack, and Uruguay were spoilers more than contenders. Yes, this was the highest score so far in the tournament, but remember that Uruguay were the last qualifiers, and most of their team are true amateurs.

Having said that – and noting the score including 11 tries – I have to say that the Aussie forwards do not impress in the set piece. And that is where those two big matches should be decided.

The Aussie backs, by contrast, look full of class. The passes are long, flat and precise. The running is sweet, and they’re coming from depth.

But Quade Cooper is still fragile, a despairing combination of wonderful skills and terrible defence, creating opportunities and missing opportunities. Another yellow card for poor technique in the tackle, and a very average goal kicking performance.

All of that adds up to an Australian team that looks equally superb in parts and fragile in parts. The intrigue is whether Lancaster for England and Gatland for Wales are smart enough to nullify the one and exploit the other.

About Ned Davy

By hokey, the big fella’s tipped into his 50s. A rangy loose forward in his prime, good with the ball in hand, but rarely up with the play any more.
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