Wallabies open Test season with 34-3 win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies open Test season with 34-3 win

By Darren Walton 11/06/2006 10:20:36 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies have overcome further scrummaging problems to make a triumphant start under new coach John Connolly with a 34-3 victory over England at Telstra Stadium.

Second-half tries to fullback Chris Latham, winger Mark Gerrard and prop Rodney Blake, a 19-point haul from centre Stirling Mortlock and stout defence carried Australia to only its second win in 10 Tests.

Connolly said pre-match he would be happy for his revamped lineup - featuring just seven survivors from the Wallabies' last Test seven months ago - to win ugly, and that's exactly what it did.

The slippery conditions and a sub-par playing surface, didn't help, but the rust was evident as the Wallabies fumbled their way through the first half against the below-strength World Champions.

Connolly gambled on a novice front row, comprising three-Test prop Greg Holmes, and Test debutants Blake and hooker Tai McIsaac, with all eyes on the Wallabies pack after its infamous capitulation against the English at Twickenham last November.

There were certainly teething problems as Holmes, in particular, struggled at the set piece early on.

The all-important first scrum providing an indication of what was to come when Wallabies halfback and captain George Gregan - playing his world-record equalling 119th Test - was penalised for taking too long to feed the ball.

The Wallabies were penalised twice more in the first half for bringing down the scrum, with Irish referee Alan Lewis resorting to coaching the two packs on the art of scrummaging.

"The scrums have been ugly," noted veteran commentator Gordon Bray.

The referee eventually called out Gregan to issue a warning to Holmes.

"The loose head has got to git up and bind up and I'm not going to watch them go down all day," Lewis said.

It proved just the tonic, with England tight-head Julian White penalised for buckling under pressure from Holmes and the very first scrum of the second half.

It marked the start of England's collapse, the Wallabies were tryless and only led 12-3 at that point, but two minutes later the floodgates opened with Mortlock sending Latham on a 25-metre sprint to the line.

Gerrard then finished off some great lead-up work from winger Clyde Rathbone to post Australia's second try seven minutes from time to put the issue beyond doubt.

There was no wiping the smile off Blake's face when he crashed over for his first Test try in the closing stages.

The Wallabies can regain the Cook Cup with success over the English in the second and final Test in Melbourne next Saturday.

"It's a starting point," Gregan said.

"We're not getting ahead of ourselves, but it was a good, positive start."

Connolly acknowledged it wasn't a vintage performance from his side.

"I think we can improve across the board considerably," he said.

"It wasn't a great effort. We won the game, we're happy with that, we defended well and it's one step on the rung, isn't it.

"We've got a lot of work to do in all facets of the game, but it's a start and we were very rusty."

Connolly said the Wallabies were well aware how the English would defend but conceded "we just didn't play well enough" to capitalise until midway through the second half.

"We've just got to play a lot better than that," he said.

The coach was happy with the Wallabies' lineout, though.

"They were good," he said.

"They have a very competitive lineout - Rowntree's a very good caller, Deacon and all their three back-rowers can jump, but we gave ourselves a pass mark there."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news