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Wobblies have their belief back

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Disregard for a second or two the one-point loss and the posturings of the All Blacks. There is something stirring in this Wallaby outfit … and it is invigorating.

Greg Growden, Sydney Morning Herald

They did enough to win last night, and should have. And they do not deserve to be ridiculed for suffering their 10th straight loss to the All Blacks, because judging by the faces of the New Zealanders at the end of the Test they knew that they had been truly blessed last night.

They also knew they had got away with their luckiest win of the season.

For most of the game, the Wallabies succeeded in upsetting the best team in world rugby, only to falter in the final stages when they could not get possession. As in Bloemfontein, they produced some exceptional ensemble rugby, with the back three of Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor and Lachie Turner enlivening the 70,000-plus crowd by forever chancing their arm, and producing the style of play that will bring back disillusioned Wallaby fans.

Considering the Wallabies are missing so many frontliners, there was so much to be encouraged by last night’s performance, just as long as the younger players continue to believe in chancing their arm and do not get overwhelmed by the pain of losing, because they will eventually get what they deserve.

But what the Wallabies must do is take a serious look at their goalkicking dilemma. For Matt Giteau to miss four of his seven shots at goal, any of which would have won the Wallabies the Test, is not good enough.

And it is not as if Giteau losing his goalkicking compass is a rare occurrence either, as over the past 12 months there have been a number of times when his kicks have gone astray. He is certainly struggling with the pressure shots.

So now the Wallabies must look at goal-kicking alternatives, and there are quite a number in the team who can do it.

Beale has shown he can take the tough ones – as evidenced last weekend in Bloemfontein by winning the Test in the final seconds, and when he eventually took over from Giteau last night.

There’s also O’Connor and Quade Cooper, so it is not as if we are looking at last resorts here. Beale, O’Connor and Cooper spent a great deal of time with former Springbok goalkicker Braam van Straaten during their recent two weeks in South Africa, and credited him for improving their technique and confidence.

So it’s now time for one of them to step up and take over kicking duties. It’s that important.

One who really did step up last night was the Wallabies’ new No.8 Ben McCalman. He should hold on to that jersey for some time because his bustling work, direct play and understanding of how to use his opportunities is something the Wallabies have been sadly lacking lately.

McCalman is a big, quietly spoken bushie who hails from the NSW Central West – the type of bloke who doesn’t swallow too many flies. He succeeded in swallowing a few All Blacks though, and if he continues in that fashion then the type of forward pack needed at the World Cup next year is starting to take shape.

INTERESTING POLL
There is a poll on the same site.
The question is: Whos is best suited to challenge the All Blacks in WC 2011?
Here are the results:
AUSTRALIA 68%
S. AFRICA 16%
FRANCE 8%
ENGLAND 3%
Total poll 5115 votes

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