Bloody late at night, 16 Nov 2002
Referee: Paul Honiss
England 32: Wallabies 31
Well yes the wallabies have lost the two key games as I predicted after the Puma game and they are due to spank Italy on Sat. But hell I was expecting a bigger rogering than that from the Poms. So the question becomes what the hell went right for a change.
When I saw the positional placements before the game I starting loading the rifle as Chucky had moved Mortlock (the most attacking player against the Irish) to the bloody wing spot. Thatís right Chucky get up against that wall as my trigger finger is itchy and unlike Special Agent Mortlock taking a crucial kick I wont miss.
While Flatley had finally been moved off the bench to IC according to the promo but at game time he took over at 5/8. Where at last he was at last allowed to shine.
The Pom pack still had it all over the Wallabies again but unlike last year they didnít have total dominance. Cockbain must be mentioned in passing as he has played very well on this tour. However, the Poms played a far better game for 60 minutes, the first 30 and the last 30. Yet another example where the Wallabies failed to play a whole game.
Once the Poms had their pack going forward they used an attacking halfback (old Gregan did kick once in his defence and perhaps he was also jet lagged?) to snipe and got their backs running forward.
Mentioning Gregan you bloody kiwiís realised that he was due to be taken to the knackers yard soon so you capped a possible replacement (just cause no one in Australia wanted him and he took his chances. Bitch, whinge, bitch ,bitch). This just isnít cricket you know.
However, back to the story. It was the golden 20 minutes in the middle of the game that gave me false hope. Here the Wallabies finally decided that Burkeís boot wonít win them a game and they turned on the attack. I was so shocked at the attacking lineout that I spilt my drink as I was in the middle of a verbal tirade concerning the boot of Burke being called up for another penalty shot. At this stage of the game it was 16-6 to the Poms.
Up to this stage Flatley had been running the ball up and was often the last line of defence via intercepting loose passes or driving the ball back over halfway once pinned deep in the Wallaby 22.
Then Flatley took the game by its scruff of the neck and showed what he is capable of. After the lineout the Wallabies were awarded a scrum after the Poms pulled the lineout jumper down. Once Flatley received the ball he exploited the defensive gap faster than the ARU taking the RWC off NZ and charged through for his first try of the day. The score was now 16-13 and it was halftime.
At the start of the second half the wallabies finally started to click. They got the ball deep into the Pomís territory via a sensational chip-kick from Kefu who then regathered the ball from Robinson. Then Flatley fired a long pass to Larkham (played at full back mostly) who was able to use the extra space to fire an even longer pass out to Windhole for another try. Unconverted by Burke Wallabies 18-16.
Then it was seconds later (as the replay I saw was heavily edited with minutes missing here and there especially at the end. Not happy Foxtel! So donít #### with game the first time you show them.) as the Poms were on attack and the ball came loose that Flatley grabbed hold of it and sprinted towards the touch line. Now I am a fan of Flatleyís but never in my wildest dreams did I think he would be able to run 80 m for a try. I mean he even put a little goose step on Robinson so that he crashed into the twickers turf as he scooted over for the try. Converted by Burke 25-16
Burke then kicked a penalty and it was 28-16 and at this stage I didnít mind being wrong about forecasting that the Wallabies going to lose. Unfortunately it was after this that the poms woke up and they started to play rugby again and thatís all folks.
The really inspiring move by Chucky to replace Flatley at 5/8, with 8 minutes to go was unbelievable. I mean no offence to Giteau but hell he hasnít even played Super 12 yet and the occasion got to him. Yes I know he played well for the Canberra Vikings this year but hell Chucky the ĎPremier Compí aint exactly international standard. Flatley was at least allowed to stay on the field at his advertised space at IC but the move probably cost the game.
I mean the Wallabies stopped trying to pile on the points through tries and once again relied on Burkeís boot to preserve the lead. And yes he did miss a goal at the end so the Wallabies lost 32-31.
Itís been interesting to note that with hindsight the Aussie media have now turned on Chucky and the old ACT guard and are braying for blood. Of course most of this media is NSW so no surprise there. What the surprise is that it has taken them so long to work out what the problems are.