1. Wallabies turned down a dozen points
By my count the Wallabies turned down four kickable shots at goal – 12 points – and subsequently turned over possession when they tried to crack the Pumas defence during Saturday’s 15-15 draw. Some might argue there were another two penalties they refused to take, but Reece Hodge collected three points at the end of that passage of play (at the end of the first half) so that would be 'double counting'.
Reece Hodge was shattered at fulltime in Newcastle.Credit:Stuart Walmsley/Rugby AU
Still, those missed four penalty chances put the spotlight on the Wallabies' decision making in what was always going to be a tough Test. It's a Super Rugby mentality, and the Wallabies and All Blacks have both been guilty of it during the Rugby Championship. As the game unfolded – and the Pumas supporters got more boisterous – you could see the Argentines grow from the belief they hadn't really been punished for their ill discipline.
2. Wallabies lose the bench battle.
Dave Rennie's side were a touch unlucky in the two penalties that allowed the Pumas to draw level. For mine, Facundo Isa had a knee on the ground before being rewarded by referee Paul Williams for a ruck penalty, while Emiliano Boffelli knocked on under the high ball just before Matt Philip was adjudged to have played at the ball from an offside position.
Nonetheless, the coach might have to cop it on the chin that his substitutions didn't work. Jake Gordon was a bit scrappy at halfback and Liam Wright couldn't generate much punch, but the real head scratchers were the replacement of the excellent Tom Wright for Filipo Daugunu and the non-use of Noah Lolesio. The Wallabies' play from the backfield deteriorated sharply in the final quarter – Tom Banks was one culprit – and it might have been nice to see Lolesio given the chance to use his footwork at the line. The rain was clearly a factor, but the Wallabies might review the last quarter and admit they just stopped playing.
Argentina’s Gonzalo Bertranou kicks from the ruck.Credit:Stuart Walmsley/Rugby AU
No broadcaster in their right minds would want to encourage a tactic that takes all the pace out of the game and incentivises teams to kick. Ironically, the last penalty the Wallabies conceded originated from a Jake Gordon bomb at the back of a long ruck, so it's something of a double-edged sword if the No 9 doesn't get the right distance on the kick. Its main problem, though, is that it's deadset boring and we are in the entertainment industry.
5. Eddie Jones' England are the world's best team.
It's hard to judge the Springboks after they opted out of 2020, but England are the pick of the bunch of the Test nations still playing. They devoured the Irish pack at Twickenham in their 18-7 win and found the cutting edge out wide when they needed it. Kiwi John Mitchell has helped turn them into a brutal defensive unit packed with tackling machines such as Maro Itoje and after beating Georgia 40-0 last week they looked like blanking Ireland as well until a late try from Jacob Stockdale.
Maro Itoje makes a tackle during England’s win over Ireland.Credit:AP
Have any of the Tri Nations teams shown they have the right mix of physicality, tactical nous and attacking brilliance to beat England at the moment. That's highly debatable. The French will give England a game if they meet in the Autumn Nations Cup but the big white brick wall looks hard to get through.
Cully's team of the week
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