Having earlier this 12 months advised the Wallabies would launch a “smash and seize marketing campaign” on the Rugby World Cup, coach Eddie Jones’s plans are actually in peril of being foiled on the first hurdle.
By no means earlier than have the Wallabies exited the event on the pool stage, however they’re looking at that prospect following their 22-15 loss to Fiji in Saint-Étienne.
Their quarterfinal hopes are nonetheless alive for the second, nonetheless Monday morning’s outcome has heaped a mountain of strain on the Australians forward of their subsequent pool match in opposition to unbeaten Wales in Lyon in every week’s time.
A Welsh triumph would consign the Wallabies to a 1-2 win-loss report earlier than their remaining pool match in opposition to Portugal.
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Such a situation would require not only a win over the Portuguese but in addition the help of bonus factors and different outcomes going their approach if they’re to have any probability of advancing to the final eight.
It’s a place wherein the Wallabies have by no means discovered themselves earlier than at a World Cup.
Whereas they recorded defeats within the pool stage at three earlier editions, every time they have been beneath no reasonable risk of lacking the knockout rounds.
Now that they’ve their backs to the wall, the Wallabies solely have themselves guilty.
Poor self-discipline value them dearly within the Fiji defeat, as they have been made to pay for a mammoth 18-7 penalty depend in opposition to them.
Fiji transformed from the kicking tee on 5 of these events by way of Simione Kuruvoli and Frank Lomani, constructing scoreboard strain that the Wallabies couldn’t overcome.
The truth is, penalty objectives proved the distinction in the scoreline, as the Wallabies crossed for 2 tries to Fiji’s one.
The inexperience of the Wallabies squad on the World Cup stage was laid naked within the build-up to Fiji’s sole strive, scored by Josua Tuisova simply after half-time.
A scarcity of communication between two of their youthful squad members, Mark Nawaqanitawase and Carter Gordon, noticed a Fijian field kick allowed to bounce, with Tuisova available to gather the crumbs earlier than he galloped his approach over the aim line.
It was a second that greatest summed up the Wallabies’ efficiency, with Jones admitting after the match that his aspect was a “poor model” of what it could possibly be.
Fiji earns simply reward with well-known victory
To Jones’s credit score, he felt Fiji completely deserved the win that noticed the Pacific Islands nation bounce again from its opening 32-26 loss to Wales in Bordeaux.
It was simply Fiji’s third win over the Wallabies in Check historical past and the primary since 1954.
Fiji was smart to make use of its scoring alternatives once they have been made out there through Wallabies penalties and this illustrated the rising maturity of coach Simon Raiwalui’s squad.
They confirmed endurance when it was required and didn’t lose their nerve when main 22-8 within the second half, a degree within the match the place earlier Fijian sides would possible have faltered.
Solely 4 years in the past, Fiji led the Wallabies 21-12 within the second half of their World Cup pool match in Japan, earlier than conceding 27 unanswered factors to go down 39-21.
This time round, Fiji produced an 80-minute show in opposition to the Wallabies and will depend themselves unfortunate to not be undefeated after two matches, having fallen simply in need of overhauling Wales with a last-ditched effort of their event opener.
Fiji are anticipated to win their subsequent two pool matches, in opposition to Georgia in Bordeaux on October 1 and Portugal in Toulouse eight days later.
Jones to return to the drafting board
All just isn’t misplaced for the Wallabies, given a win over Wales will breathe life again into their tilt in France.
And what they do have of their favour is Jones’s teaching IQ, particularly contained in the World Cup area.
Jones has led each the Wallabies (2003) and England (2019) to appearances within the remaining, whereas he was a key adviser to South Africa coach Jake White when the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007.
On every event, nonetheless, these squads have been overflowing with excellent expertise and that may’t be stated in regards to the present crop of Wallabies.
Two of their real world-class gamers, captain Will Skelton (calf) and prop Taniela Tupou (hamstring), have been sorely missed in opposition to Fiji after each being dominated out by way of harm.
Skelton and Tupou may even miss the Wales encounter in a significant blow to Jones, who can ill-afford to lose any extra of his troops.
Enhancing self-discipline may even be entrance of thoughts for the veteran coach, who — greater than ever earlier than — should dig deeper into his bag of tips if he’s to navigate the Wallabies again on track.