RWC QF 1: ENG vs. AUS

When history, form and logic are against you, where do you turn?

Hope and Belief. The psyche of the Aussie battler can overcome some of the toughest odds to achieve success. Michael Chieka and Michael Hooper through the week attempted to unlock this magical superpower. “Belief” was mentioned countless times throughout the various press conferences.

Aussies love the underdog status; we often fight for it. We tend to perform better as underdogs. But what happens when we start to believe our own press. We don’t just embrace it, we become it.

Scoring first the Australians took a 3 – 0 lead and looked reasonably competent. Defending well, the first English try was scored on the wing, after solid forward work drew in defenders. The overlap created was capitalised on in true English fashion.

Soon after the Australians were hot on attack when David Pocock threw a quick pass intended for an unaware Christian Lealiifano. He missed the ball, and England went 70 metres to score in the corner. The scores went to 14 – 3, even though possession, territory and momentum were with the Australians.

It was by far and away the best the Aussies had played all tournament. So, at half time with the scores 17 – 9, the game was certainly in the balance.

The Wallabies came out of the sheds firing, scoring a brilliant try in the opening 5 minutes to take the score to 17 – 16.

From there the game was all England. Cool, calm and collected. Well prepared, well organised and well better that the Wallabies. Having said that, the English brilliance, was interspersed with basic and blatant Wallaby errors.

The Wallabies need to learn to hold back that last pass. The difference between legend and loser is one pass. We were significantly more creative than England but it was errors that cost us. We squandered most opportunities.

(Assuming New Zealand conquer Ireland) England will be the best chance of beating the All Blacks this tournament. Semi Final #1 will be immense.

Man of the match for me was Ben Skeen (the TMO). He overcame some horrendous performances earlier in the tournament to let the game unfold wonderfully. His two interjections were both welcomed by the match officials, and he only answered the questions being asked of him alone. The ref didn’t like his opinion on the second occasion, but he was quick to decide and didn’t slow the game down too much.

The Wallabies are on a plane tomorrow but have had the tournament everyone was expecting. Michael Cheika has probably coached his last match at the helm of the Wallabies. No one is either surprised or particularly disappointed.

All aboard the Japan train. Toot Toot!

Final Score: England 40 – Australia 16

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