While the Wallabies have taken a lot of flak for their surprise loss to Samoa on the weekend, one of the reasons they looked so shell shocked out there was without a doubt the physical confrontation that the Samoans provided. Here’s a closer look at some of the bigger collisions.
Pacific Island players and teams have always had the reputation of being big hitters. It’s fair to say that sometimes that hard-hitting approach lands them in hot water, as we’ve seen with Fiji (we’ll take a look at that tomorrow). Samoa’s victory over Australia however was a brilliant example of channelled aggression, intimidation, and very well organised defence.
The Wallabies actually started the game well on that front, with center Pat McCabe making a massive tackle a few seconds into the match. That was pretty much where it ended for the hosts though, as after that it was all Samoa.
Alesana Tuilagi on the wing was a stand-out, as he not only scored a try, but peppered debutant Rod Davies all day long. If he wasn’t running over him, he was smashing him, and he was loving every minute of it. It was quite a baptism of fire for the Reds star, who went from hero to zero within the space of a few weeks. That’s what makes international sport so great though. It’s a leveller.
Davies had the right attitude after the game, acknowledging that things can only get better for him. “Obviously that is not the way I pictured my debut in Tests. The only way is up from here,” Davies said. “He’s pretty big, he’s pretty agile as well. Credit to him, he played a great game and got the points today,” he added, referring to 111kg wing Tuilagi.
If you missed the match and only saw the highlights, this clip will hopefully give you some kind of indication as to how physical the approach of the Samoas was, not only in the tackle, but at the breakdown too. Yes, some of the hits are borderline, and even illegal in some cases, but the overall approach was to smash the Wallabies into submission, and they did just that.
On a side note, we’d like to offer our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Queensland University player Halley Appleby, who died from injuries sustained on the rugby field this past weekend. He was 21 years old, and loved by many. May he rest in peace.
You can read more about what happened (no foul play suspected), and see some of the tributes for him, by reading the story on the Courier Mail website here .