Following the magnificant crowning last weekend of the Queensland Reds, Australian confidence was riding high, with Robbie Deans opting to blood some of the wider squad as they look to develop depth to the side ahead of the World Cup.
However, Samoa, who only managed one win their defense of the Pacific Nations Cup, turned Australia’s Tri-Nations preparation on its head, with their first ever win over the men in gold. The South-Sea Islanders (population 180,000) outscored and out muscled their opponents, with four superb tries – the first a sublime 80 metre break by Alesana Tuilagi. Fullback Williams added a second to help Manu Samoa into a 17-0 lead after 30mins. Digby Ioane managed to get a score back for the Wallabies late in the half, but for much of the match they looked short of ideas and kept coughing up the ball at critical points.
Some of the mistakes were the sort unusually reserved for school boy matches.
The second half just got worse as the bone-crunching-tacklers from Manu touched down twice more to lead 29-13. Despite Deans’ attempt to inject some pace and experience into the team with some tactical substitutions after 20mins it was already too late, as the Blue tide just washed the Wallabies away, soaking up attacks and forcing numerous turnovers.
With Australia due to take on current World Champions South Africa in Sydney next weekend their will have to be some serious soul searching if they are to compete – and underline that they are worthy of their 2nd place in the IRB World rankings.
Meanwhile, Wales will be nervous of their South Sea opponents for the World Cup, particularly given the way they were unceremoniously and embarrassingly dumped out of the last tournament by the other Pacific minows, Fiji (who take on New Zealand next week).
The Wallabies will need to bounce back, and bounce back well if they are not to be broken, bashed and beaten by the Boks.