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Melbourne Cup hopeful Steel Prince claims Geelong Cup victory over stablemate Le Don De Vie



Steel Prince may have gained a start in the Melbourne Cup for the second year in a row, after a narrow win over imported stablemate Le Don De Vie in the Geelong Cup.

Anthony and Sam Freedman, who trained the quinella, are hoping both of their horses will have their next starts in the Melbourne Cup, but Steel Prince is number 35 in the order of entry and Le Don De Vie number 38.

Steel Prince is expected to attract a weight penalty for his Geelong Cup win, which could help elevate him into the Melbourne Cup field.

Last year Steel Prince finished ninth in the Melbourne Cup.

If Le Don De Vie does not gain a berth, he will run in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the final day of the Flemington carnival.

Before the 2,400-metre race in Geelong, Freedman told Steel Prince’s jockey Jye McNeil that the horse thrived on being challenged down the straight.

In a thrilling finish, Steel Prince held off Le Don De Vie by a long head, with King Of Leogrance just over a length behind in third place.

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“The owners have been really patient with him. They haven’t pushed us to get him into the Melbourne Cup,” Sam Freedman said after the race.

“We’ve looked after the horse first and we’ll see how he comes through it. That’ll be the plan at this stage.”

Sam Freedman said Steel Prince was a better horse than last year, when he had a chequered preparation, compared to a perfect build-up this time around.

McNeil said the Geelong Cup win proved Steel Prince was back to his best.

“He went great last year in the Melbourne Cup, and based on today he’s going as well as last time,” McNeil said.

“He’ll run an honest race for sure.”

AAP



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AFL Premiership Cup tour visits incredible locations across Queensland


The AFL Premiership Cup Tour across Queensland was not your average trophy roadshow – more a tour de force that took the game’s holy grail to the state’s most picturesque locations.

The 10-day tour included a carefully planned shoot at the remote Vlasoff Cay – a sandbar in the Great Barrier Reef that is no bigger than a footy field and only appears at low tide.

It’s a must-do bucket list item for visitors of tropical north Queensland.

The tour also included a dawn visit to stunning Cape Hillsborough near Mackay, where kangaroos and wallabies roam the beach each morning, and the spectacular Museum of Underwater Art off Townsville.

Here is a selection of the best images from the tour.

See more at queensland.com



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FIFA begins process of selecting Australian, New Zealand host cities for 2023 Women’s World Cup


FIFA has began conducting virtual workshops with the 12 Australian and New Zealand candidate cities hoping to host matches at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has described the workshops, which will be held over the next two weeks, as a “significant milestone” following FIFA’s decision to award Australia and New Zealand hosting rights for the tournament.

FIFA, along with FFA and New Zealand Football, will detail the selection process, with bid cities to have the opportunity to present their latest legacy and logistical plans.

The Australian cities hoping to be selected are Adelaide, Brisbane, Launceston, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney.

New Zealand cities in the running are Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton and Wellington.

The last Women’s World Cup, held in France in 2019, was staged across nine cities, although since that tournament the number of competing nations has expanded from 24 to 32.

US women's soccer team celebrate winning 2019 world cup
The 2023 Women’s World Cup will host more nations than the 2019 edition, won by the US.(AP: Alessandra Tarantino)

FFA’s Women’s World Cup 2023 head Jane Fernandez said FIFA would be looking closely at several items in the selection process.

“They’ll make the decision based on all the work that is being done now, to analyse all of the stadiums, all of the infrastructure, the costs, and things like this, and that will determine the (final) number of stadiums,” she told The Ticket.

“The virtual workshops will include not only each city telling their story about the infrastructure, but definitely they also need to explain what the legacy will be to their city by hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2023.

FFA head of game development and retired Australian international, Sarah Walsh, said participation was at the foundation of the legacy framework.

“It’s fair to say it’s (participation) one of the most supported (legacy components) by FIFA,” she said.

“They’re really keen to see how we’re going to boost participation, which means building capabilities in the current system and the 2,000-plus clubs … and on top of that it’s delivering modified products like ‘soccer mums’ and social programs that create more flexibility in the offering for women of all ages.”

FFA wants to cater for women ‘of all backgrounds’

FFA also hopes the removal of barriers for women in other areas of the game will be one of the lasting positives.

Walsh said creating pathways for women to take up roles in areas such as communications, media, coaching, refereeing, and administration — particularly in decision-making roles — was crucial.

She said it was important to build support programs, and mentoring and leadership programs, and to also “think about whether we look at quotas and putting that into our coaching courses”.

“We want to make sure our game is accessible to women of all backgrounds,” Walsh said.

“So there’s an Indigenous element in there, there’s CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities and [people of] all abilities.”

FIFA is hoping the 2023 Women’s World Cup — the first to be co-hosted by two confederations (Asia and Oceania) — will drive growth in the South Pacific and in the world’s most populous countries, China and India.

“This is something that FIFA are very interested in,” Walsh said.

“Because obviously hosting a World Cup between Australia and New Zealand is great for our two countries but how can we utilise this to build a platform for other countries and deliver some of our programs into Asia and Oceania?”

Fernandez said the final cost of the World Cup would be determined once decisions were made around the number of stadiums and host cities.

“Whilst I’m sure FIFA has a number of different budgets being prepared, the final number won’t be known until the selection has been completed,” she said.

“But we know that the Australian (federal and state) governments have committed up to $94.4 million … a significant investment, and it shows the value governments place on hosting the tournament.”

FFA chief executive James Johnson said the Women’s World Cup was a key component of his organisation’s “XI Principles”, the title given to its plan for the future of the game in Australia.

“Australia’s co-hosting of the next FIFA Women’s World Cup ensures that we continue to be a globally-minded organisation, and will play a significant role in ensuring Australia becomes the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said in an FFA statement.

FIFA delegates will visit each of the candidate cities once COVID-19 restrictions have eased. The successful bid cities are expected to be announced by March next year.



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Ash Barty ‘surprised and honoured’ to be asked to present AFL premiership cup to Richmond if they beat Geelong



World number one tennis player Ash Barty will present the AFL premiership cup to Richmond should the Tigers win Saturday’s decider.

The 24-year-old is a lifelong supporter of Richmond and its number one membership holder for the AFLW team.

The AFL has asked clubs to nominate a person to present the premiership cup since 2004.

“I was surprised and very honoured when [Richmond president] Peggy [O’Neal] asked me to present the cup,” Barty said in a statement on the Richmond website.

“I know there are many other Richmond people who would normally do this but given the circumstances I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Ipswich-born Barty, who has retained her world number one ranking despite not stepping onto a tennis court since February, was seen supporting the Tigers at the Gabba when Richmond lost its qualifying final against the Lions earlier this month.

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Barty said she watched the Tigers matches when on the tennis tour.

“[I] have loved watching the Tigers on my travels, supporting them has been a constant source of enjoyment for me on the road.”

Should Geelong prevail on Saturday, the cup will be presented by 325-game Cats legend, Ian Nankervis.

Nankervis played for Geelong from 1967 to 1983, kicking 203 goals and being named the club’s best and fairest three times, in 1972, 1976 and 1977.

The member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame captained the Cats for 110 games across four seasons.

Richmond takes on Geelong in the grand final at the Gabba in Brisbane on Saturday at 7:30pm AEDT.



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Wallabies still a work in progress as All Blacks claim win in second Bledisloe Cup Test


Missed tackles and turnover ball will cruel any rugby team’s chances of victory, as the Wallabies were reminded of in Sunday’s 27-7 loss to the All Blacks at Eden Park.

Costly mistakes from the Wallabies were pounced upon by a clinical All Blacks outfit, who played as if they had a point to prove following last weekend’s 16-16 draw in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Wellington.

The Wallabies did deserve to be as close to the All Blacks as they were at half-time — only 10-7 down on the scoreboard — and they had at least two genuine try-scoring chances in the second term that could have kept them in the hunt.

But lapses in the fundamentals of both attack and defence let them down at various stages of the match and they have plenty to work on ahead of facing the All Blacks again later this month on Australian soil.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland.

Wallabies made to pay for poor defence

Ask any rugby coach what the key to a successful defensive performance is and they will tell you it comes down to attitude.

That being the case, Wallabies defence coach Matt Taylor now has to work as much on the mental approach of his players — and not just defensive structure and tackling technique — after they recorded 40 missed tackles against the All Blacks.

The lacklustre effort was punished by the All Blacks, who showed aggression with their carries in attack throughout the 80 minutes, while their support play often stretched the Wallabies’ defensive line.

Improving a defence that leaked four tries will be a priority for the Wallabies ahead of the upcoming three-nation tournament with the All Blacks and Argentina.

Turnovers prove costly

The intent in attack for the Wallabies was on display in Auckland but poor ball security and decision making meant the execution left much to be desired.

No team can afford to turn over possession to the All Blacks, who again showed how dangerous they are in counterattack.

For example, a Jordan Petaia loose carry coughed up possession when the Wallabies were on the attack, leading to Sam Cane’s 53rd-minute try.

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And only minutes earlier, Ardie Savea’s try came courtesy of an aimless Wallabies kick into the All Blacks’ half.

Caleb Clarke had taken the high ball before producing a bulldozing run that gave the home side a deep entry into Wallabies territory, from which point they eventually crossed for their third try of the afternoon.

Greater respect for possession — as well as a need to tighten their defence — was highlighted by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie after full-time.

“Today we turned the ball over a lot and then missed too many tackles,” Rennie said.

“You just can’t gift the All Blacks that much ball. They’ve got too many athletes who can hurt you and that’s what we saw today.”

All Blacks have a star in the making

The comparisons to the late Jonah Lomu are premature, but Clarke announced himself as an All Blacks star of the future with a stunning run-on debut.

The 21-year-old winger was a handful for the Wallabies in attack, perhaps best illustrated by the aforementioned lead-up work he provided for Savea’s try in the second half, which effectively sealed the win for the All Blacks.

A New Zealand All Blacks player makes a break against the Wallabies.
Caleb Clarke had a significant impact in his first run-on Test for the All Blacks.(AP: Mark Baker)

The physically imposing Clarke, whose father Eroni played for the All Blacks in the 1990s, made 12 tackle busts and three clean line breaks in a performance that satisfied coach Ian Foster in his classically understated way.

“We’re just trying to give him the ball occasionally and he’s pretty useful,” Foster said after the match.

Beauden Barrett also made his presence felt in his return from injury, showing what the All Blacks missed through his absence in Wellington a week ago.

Has Hanigan arrived as a Test player?

Rennie deserves praise for the faith he showed in Ned Hanigan, whose almost two-year hiatus from the Test arena came to an end with selection in the Wallabies’ starting XV.

Hanigan had not proven himself at the international level in his previous 20 Test appearance but his performance at blindside flanker at Eden Park was impressive.

An Australian Wallabies player prepares to throw a pass against the All Blacks.
Ned Hanigan produced his best display in a Wallabies jersey.(AP: Mark Baker)

He was effective on both the attacking and defensive sides of the ball, with his highlights reel featuring a crucial line break that eventually led to the Wallabies’ only try of the afternoon, scored by Marika Koroibete.

The challenge now for Hanigan is to back up that display, as being able to produce a repeat effort will go a long way to ensuring he has a long-term future as a member of Rennie’s Wallabies program.



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New Zealand’s All Blacks defeat Australia 27-7 in second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland


Australia’s run of outs at Eden Park has continued, with New Zealand recording a convincing 27-7 victory in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland.

The Wallabies have not beaten the All Blacks at the venue since 1986 and the visitors backed their chances of snapping the losing streak following their spirited display in last weekend’s pulsating 16-16 draw in Wellington.

But the All Blacks were in a different class for much of the contest at Eden Park, scoring four tries to one to edge closer to retaining the Bledisloe Cup, which they have held since 2003.

After holding a slender 10-7 lead at half-time, the All Blacks scored three tries in the second term and kept the Wallabies scoreless on the way to their 20th straight victory over their trans-Tasman rival at Eden Park.

The All Blacks and Wallabies will meet again in two Tests in Sydney (October 31) and Brisbane (November 7) in what is a revamped Rugby Championship tournament following the withdrawal of South Africa.

Both sides will also play Argentina in the three-nation competition.

The All Blacks, stung by a poor effort in the Bledisloe Cup opener, came into Sunday’s Test in Auckland with more venom.

Veteran hooker Dane Coles bristled with energy and the return of Beauden Barrett from injury injected penetrative pace.

A New Zealand All Blacks players holds an Australian Wallabies opponent around the shoulders.
There was some feeling in the early exchanges between the All Blacks and Wallabies.(AP: Mark Baker)

But the undoubted star was winger Caleb Clarke, who showed Jonah Lomu-like skills and strength as he bulldozed the Wallabies defence time and again to announce himself as a future star in the making.

Clarke, whose father Eroni played for the All Blacks, was so impressive he left the field to a standing ovation with 12 minutes remaining in the match.

The All Blacks did a great job protecting five-eighth Richie Mo’unga after he was ruffled by the Wallabies’ defence in Wellington.

They used skip passes to Jack Goodhue and Barrett also stepped into first receiver role.

After a Mo’unga penalty, it was Goodhue running at first receiver in the 23rd minute that led to the All Blacks’ first try.

Goodhue powered to within a metre of the line and Aaron Smith scooted around from the base of the ruck to score.

Ned Hanigan was a strong addition to the Wallabies’ starting XV and they struck back just on the half-hour mark when the blindside flanker broke through an attempted tackle by Joe Moody.

Moody was left face down on the turf after being knocked out when his head smacked into Hanigan’s hip.

Hanigan burst clear to give the Wallabies vital field position and they capitalised through Marika Koroibete scoring in the left corner.

Four Australian Wallabies players celebrate a try against New Zealand's All Blacks.
The Wallabies had a glimmer of hope when Marika Koroibete (second from right) scored a try.(AP: Mark Baker)

The Wallabies were dealt a blow from the ensuing kick-off when Matt To’omua appeared to strain a hip flexor while making a clearing kick and he was replaced by Jordan Petaia.

Leading by three points at half-time, the All Blacks started the second term with a try-scoring blitz.

Within three minutes of the resumption, Jordie Barrett crossed after Mo’unga and Goodhue combined to create an overlap against a flat-footed Wallabies defence.

The match was effectively over three minutes later when Clarke — with a mix of raw power and savvy footwork — smashed through five would-be tacklers to create the space for number eight Ardie Savea to bust past the remnants of the Wallabies’ broken defence.

With the All Blacks leading 20-7, the Wallabies had appeared to grab one try back when hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa crawled over the line from a rolling maul deep inside opposition territory.

But following the intervention of the TMO, Paenga-Amosa was judged to have promoted the ball illegally across the line and the All Blacks were awarded a penalty.

All Blacks skipper Same Cane scored the fourth and final try in the 53rd minute, with Mo’unga adding the conversion to close out the scoring for the afternoon.

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Live: All Blacks, Wallabies locked in tight battle in second Bledisloe Cup Test



Coming off last weekend’s thrilling draw, there is little separating New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park, as the Wallabies chase their first win over the All Blacks at the venue in 34 years. Follow all the action in our live ScoreCentre.



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Verry Elleegant takes out the Caulfield Cup as Classique Legend wins The Everest at Royal Randwick


Classique Legend has won the richest race in Australia, the $15 million The Everest at Royal Randwick, while Verry Elleegant was victorious in the Group One Caulfield Cup.

Trained by Les Bridge, the grey Classique Legend picked up the $6.2 million winner’s cheque, with jockey Kerrin McEvoy winning the big race for a third time, ahead of Bivouac in second place and Gytrash in third.

Nature Strip and Eduardo led the race early, and the placings stayed the same into the straight, with Eduardo holding the lead inside the 300m before McEvoy moved Classique Legend to the front, to kick clear and win easily.

This gave the 81-year-old Bridge another big win to add to his 1987 Melbourne Cup victory with Kensei.

The slot holder for Classique Legend’s place in the field was the horse’s owner Bon Ho.

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Bivouac, trained by James Cummings for Godolphin, came through for second place, worth $2.3 million. Gytrash, with Jason Collett on board, rounded out the placings to win $1.4 million for connections and slot holder Inglis.

“I’ve been telling everyone for three months [it would win],” Bridge told Channel Seven after the race.

“One of my greatest friends was Persy Sykes who I spent a lot of time with. He said it is all in the genes. Some horses just get all the good genes.

“I’m just repeating his words. This horse, he has a girth on him that deep and he just has a big V8 motor. It is unbelievable.”

McEvoy said Classique Legend had a big job to do in a race that was run at a breakneck speed.

“I looked up at the 600 [metres] and they were well in front, they were off,” he said.

“I thought, ‘Far out, if Nature Strip and the companions are back to their best they are going to take a bit of running down.’

“Full credit to my horse. With that cover and soft time of it early, he was able to really power when I asked him. Soon after I was confident I would pick them up.”

A racehorse comes past the winning post in a big race, with two other horses close behind.
Jockey Mark Zahra rode Verry Elleegant to a narrow victory over Anthony Van Dyck (nearest) in the Caulfield Cup.(AAP: Racing Photos: Pat Scala)

In Melbourne, Chris Waller trained his first winner of the Caulfield Cup, as Verry Elleegant held off a fast-finishing Anthony Van Dyck to win the $5 million race, with The Chosen One in third.

Anthony Van Dyck came into the race with a big reputation as a winner of the English Derby.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained thoroughbred came rattling down the outside in the straight to challenge Verry Elleegant, who had hit the front ahead of The Chosen One with 250 to go.

In winning the first leg of the Melbourne spring carnival’s historic Cups double, Verry Elleegant will be one of the favourites to win the Melbourne Cup on November 3.

ABC/AAP



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Wallabies make changes for second Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand’s All Blacks


Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has backed recalled forward Ned Hanigan to provide “a point of difference” in Sunday’s second Bledisloe Cup Test at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Hanigan has been named at blindside flanker to face the All Blacks as part of a back-row positional change to the Wallabies’ line-up that drew last Sunday’s thrilling Bledisloe Cup opener 16-16 in Wellington.

Harry Wilson, who played at blindside flanker in Wellington, shifts to number eight, with Pete Samu dropping out of the matchday squad for the Eden Park clash.

Brandon Paenga-Amosa replaces Folau Fainga’a at hooker in the other change to the starting XV, while Queensland pair Liam Wright and Jordan Petaia have been selected on the reserves bench.

Hanigan has not played a Test since 2018 but Rennie said the 25-year-old deserved an international recall based on his training performances.

“Ned has been really impressive and has trained superbly in the four weeks that we’ve been together,” Rennie said.

“He’s done a lot of work around the All Blacks and the opposition stuff leading into last weekend’s game.

Hanigan, who can also play lock, offers the Wallabies an extra lineout option against the All Blacks.

“He’s a really good leader and lineout forward and we think all those elements are important this week,” Rennie said of Hanigan, who has played 20 Tests for the Wallabies.

An Australian rugby union international holds onto the ball as he is tackled by two defenders.
Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami was busy in attack and defence on debut.(AP: Brett Phibbs)

Rennie showed faith in outside centre Hunter Paisami, resisting the urge to name Petaia in his starting XV after the 20-year-old recovered from the hip injury that ruled him out of the Wellington Test.

Paisami performed well in his Test debut last Sunday and will again partner Matt To’omua in the centres.

Wright’s inclusion on the reserves bench comes at the expense of Rob Valetini.

The All Blacks have also made changes to their matchday squad, with Beauden Barrett returning from injury to line up at fullback.

Barrett missed the opening Test because of an Achilles tendon injury. He takes the place of Damien McKenzie, who moves to the bench.

Among the other changes, Rieko Ioane has been dumped from the starting XV, with Anton Lienert-Brown named in the centres, and Caleb Clarke replaces injured winger George Bridge.

Lock Sam Whitelock has failed to recover from a head knock, with Tupou Vaa’i coming into the starting line-up.

The Wallabies are chasing their first victory over the All Blacks at Eden Park in 34 years.

A win would boost their chances of reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup, which the All Blacks have held since 2003.

The Wallabies and All Blacks will play another two Tests as part of what is now a three-nation tournament following the withdrawal of South Africa from the Rugby Championship.

Argentina will also contest the Tri-Nations championship alongside the Wallabies and All Blacks.

ABC/AAP



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Wallabies show promising signs against All Blacks in epic Bledisloe Cup draw in Wellington


It is far too early to suggest Australia is on the verge of reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in almost two decades, but Sunday’s epic 16-16 draw with New Zealand provided evidence brighter days may lie ahead for the Wallabies.

They had their chances to beat the All Blacks in Wellington during almost 90 minutes of rugby and they will no doubt count themselves unlucky Reece Hodge’s long-range effort after the full-time siren hit the upright instead of sailing through for a match-winning penalty goal.

It was not a flawless performance from the Wallabies but there were enough positives to give Wallabies coach Dave Rennie hope his side can win the second Bledisloe Cup Test next Sunday at Auckland’s Eden Park, although he would be mindful of Australia’s woeful record at the venue.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the Wallabies’ display in the pulsating Bledisloe Cup opener.

Wallabies playing with harder edge

It could not be said the Wallabies lacked a desire to win under former coach Michael Cheika, but the squad’s resolve does appear to be strengthening under Rennie’s leadership.

Yes, this is an observation made following just one Test under his coaching, however there were signs in Wellington the Wallabies are developing into a mentally tougher unit.

An example of this came when they trailed 13-3 in the second half.

This was a point in the match where in the past the Wallabies could have easily folded against the All Blacks, especially when playing in New Zealand.

An Australian rugby union international reaches out to plant the ball down in the corner for a try.
Winger Marika Koroibete (right) scored one of the Wallabies’ two tries.(AP/Photosport)

Yet Rennie’s team responded with score tries to Filipo Daugunu and Marika Koroibiete, and a penalty goal to James O’Connor to move in front on the scoreboard, 16-13.

The fact they could not close out the match shows they are nowhere near the finished product, but there is a reason for Wallabies fans to be encouraged.

Rennie’s comments after the match should also hearten the Australian rugby community, as he showed he will not be satisfied simply with admirable performances.

“We’re disappointed,” Rennie said in his post-match media conference.

“We’re certainly not celebrating in the changerooms.”

There’s room for improvement

As spirited as the Wallabies’ display was in Wellington, there are areas of concern for Rennie ahead of the Eden Park clash and looking beyond to the Rugby Championship beginning later this month.

The Wallabies enjoyed around 60 per cent of both possession and territory, yet could not translate those stats into a decisive scoreboard advantage against the All Blacks.

The line-out proved to be a weakness and the All Blacks got the better of the breakdown battle, while discipline was a cause for alarm, with the Wallabies conceding 14 penalties to their opponents’ seven.

None of this was lost on Rennie.

“We’re miles away from where we need to be, we let ourselves down,” he said.

“We gave away 14 penalties and a big chunk of those were post tackle.”

Debutants show the right stuff

There is no tougher assignment for a player making his Test debut than facing the All Blacks in New Zealand, and Wallabies trio Daugunu, Hunter Paisami and Harry Wilson have reason to hold their heads high.

It is too early to tell whether they will have a similar impact at Test level to another three Wallabies who debuted against the All Blacks in New Zealand 31 years ago — World Cup winners Tim Horan, Phil Kearns and Tony Daly — but there were encouraging signs.

A male Australian Test rugby player dives in the air as he scores a try against the All Blacks.
Filipo Daugunu (left) was impressive on debut for the Wallabies.(AP: John Cowpland)

Winger Daugunu proved a handful on the wing and was justly rewarded with a second-half try, while outside centre Paisami performed with distinction on both sides of the ball.

The hype surrounding back rower Wilson during Queensland’s Super Rugby and Super Rugby AU campaigns was massive and there is much evidence to predict he will deliver on his promise.

Wilson is the type of ball-running back rower — with the ability to offload in the tackle — the Wallabies desperately need and his aggression in defence is another of his strengths.

He was not intimidated by his first exposure to Bledisloe Cup rugby and a lengthy Test career could await the 20-year-old.

Wallabies should keep All Blacks happy

Although the All Blacks were staring at their first loss to the Wallabies in New Zealand in 19 years, they should be satisfied with the performance of their trans-Tasman rivals.

That may sound like a strange statement, but stick with me on this one.

It was only two years ago that then-New Zealand coach Steve Hansen threw a barb at Australia by suggesting the All Blacks were being hindered in the build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup because they were lacking consistent competition from the Wallabies.

“There is definitely something missing because they [the Wallabies] are not quite right and are not performing to the level they can,” Hansen said in late 2018.

A New Zealand All Blacks players holds the ball while under pressure from the Australian defence.
The All Blacks were pushed by the Wallabies throughout the contest in Wellington.(AP: Andrew Cornaga)

The Wallabies did beat the All Blacks in Brisbane in 2017 and last year in Perth, but they were the only wins they could muster over Hansen’s side in the 2016-2019 Rugby World Cup window and they were both achieved on home soil.

Aside from a gallant 35-29 loss in Dunedin three years ago, the Wallabies barely laid a glove on the All Blacks when playing in New Zealand during that period, highlighted by last year’s 36-0 thrashing in Auckland.

A more competitive Wallabies outfit under Rennie might just keep the All Blacks happy.



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