Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Aussies' Italian Job Not So Efficient in Opener

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Aussies' Italian Job Not So Efficient in Opener

Article excerpt

Byline: RUGBY WORLD CUP Nick Farr-Jones

THE dust has settled on a magnificent three days to start the seventh edition of Rugby World Cup.

Generally all matches were fast and passionate, the grounds were colourful and buzzing and wonderfully all combatants were competitive for good periods of the match.

The pundits have been putting the slide rule under the five or six big guns. And it appears a general consensus was that the Wallabies' performance against the Italians was the standout.

So let me put things in perspective and pour some cold water on that seemingly comfortable victory.

My rough notes tell me the Wallabies dominated possession and field position in the first 40 minutes and yet rarely looked dangerous. They struggled to contain the Azzurri's rolling maul, having to resort often to illegally collapsing the advancing blue mass.

As predicted, the Italians were messy at the breakdown but this is where we were ineffective in comparison to the dynamic up-front performance against the All Blacks in Brisbane a few weeks prior.

There we crossed the gain line regularly and the clean-out was fast, furious and effective. Scrumhalf Will Genia was left to break directly and No.10 Quade Cooper was afforded what he craves a the time and space in which to play.

On Sunday, the first-half lack of space found Genia uncharacteristically running more laterally and Cooper, somewhat like Eden Park a month before, imploding with his decision-making and execution.

But the second 40 minutes brought some structure up front. Players drove beyond the gain line, the clean-out quickened and Genia and then substitute Luke Burgess started to enjoy space, which enabled Cooper to build in confidence, to regain his lateral vision and execute as we know he has done and can do.

The razzle dazzle of the backline fell into place and the scoreboard looked after itself.

Another aspect of the post-mortems I have digested that has surprised me is that it seems there is a consensus that the Wallaby scrum managed well against a supposed world-class Italian machine.

The Irish, Welsh and English scrums will be salivating at the prospect of crushing us in this all-too-crucial place, where desperately important psychological battles can be won or lost, which quickly reverberate through the team. …

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