Wallabies: Positive ‘glimpses’, ‘concerning’ negatives and suggested changes for Joe Schmidt’s second Test in charge

Dylan Coetzee
Wallabies head coach Joe Schmidt before a Test against Wales.

Wallabies head coach Joe Schmidt before a Test against Wales.

And so the Joe Schmidt era began for the Wallabies with a 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney last weekend with the first box being ticked.

There is much to look at from the performance and we delve into what was good from the Wallabies while also pointing out what can be fixed.

Positives

Schmidt clearly wanted to keep things simple and start by getting the basics right, in many ways walking before running, and he did that with the set-piece which operated at 80% in the scrum and 93% in the line-out. Now he may want more from the scrum but at times, when Taniela Tupou was on the set-piece, he was delightful and won them penalties. However, the powerhouse’s fitness may be a concern having been hooked at the break.

Outside of that, there were some neat performances from debutant Jeremy Williams in the second-row as well as the ever-green Rob Valetini, who was a colossus again. They were the standouts in a decent first run-out for the new-look Wallabies pack.

Jake Gordon and Noah Lolesio operated well for the most part as the half-back pairing, with the scrum-half in particular using his big boot to good effect from the base of ruck – this probably gets him ahead of Tate McDermott.

Lolesio was not perfect but he showed glimpses of what he could do and maybe enough for Schmidt to believe he could develop into a sparkling player in gold.

Hunter Paisami and Josh Flook were solid enough, building on their club partnership, but where there was a point of difference was in the back three. Tom Wright comes with errors but also brilliance as he showed in the decisive try running from his own half. Filipo Daugunu was abrasive and quick while Andre Kellaway almost scored a superman try in the corner. Much to be excited about.

Wales star a fitness concern ahead of second Wallabies clash

Negatives

Now the stuff not to be excited about starting with the chief issue of discipline, which was not good enough throughout with a tally of 13 penalties, although it was somehow an improvement on their last outing against Fiji (18) in the World Cup.

Wales were also high with 11 but, if you look at New Zealand, England, South Africa and Ireland, it was only the Red Rose who reached double figures in the penalty count. So ultimately the Wallabies need to get their number down to single figures or they will be dominated in the Rugby Championship.

That is something that can be improved on, as is the case for maul defence which is a massive point of concern. Wales scored a lovely effort off a drive against the Wallabies and could have got a second if it were not for an obstruction technicality when shifting the point of contact. If that was allowed there is a chance Wales could have turned the result their way.

Once again, powerful sides like the All Blacks and Springboks will be mauling against the Wallabies next month and they need to fix it as soon as possible.

Changes

None, barring injury of course. It was loose at times but the Wallabies were on the right side of the scoreline so we expect them to keep things the same and look to build on their performance.

There are options to tweak the back-row, with Charlie Cale looking good off the bench, or change the half-backs, but it just makes a lot more sense to opt for continuity and let the players show they can improve.

If the Wallabies can clean up their discipline and lower their error-rate, especially unforced errors, then they should walk away with another win.

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