2. The Reds must invest in special Isaac Lucas
What does Reds prop JP Smith dream about? You would wager it is scrums. And when he wakes up he probably calls his twin, Ruan, to talk about scrums.
There is no doubt where the Reds got their platform from in Tokyo: even with Taniela Tupou the set-piece was the foundation of their game. However, there was just enough to suggest they have a wee gem in new No 10 Isaac Lucas. He’s not a big man but he’s a tough one, and his sparkling feet, acceleration and good passing game were key factors in the Reds’ comeback.
He was ably supported by Hamish Stewart, too. There will be a bit of discussion about whether Stewart should be at 10 and Lucas at fullback, but Lucas looked composed in the playmaker’s position and his forwards would have appreciated his sympathetic passing that allowed them to come forward on to the ball and hit contact with a bit of momentum. The Reds have been waiting for quite some time for someone to step up at No 10 and Lucas might be that man.
3. Rebels loss started at the scrum
A glance at the half-time and full-time scores would suggest a catastrophic collapse but you can bet Rebels coach Dave Wessels wasn’t sitting that comfortably at half-time, even though the Rebels were up 26-5.
By that stage the Rebels scrum was under massive pressure the sequence of play in the minutes before half-time explained – in part – why the Rebels were hammered 20-1 in the penalty count.
Oddly, after winning a free-kick at the scrum the Rebels to opt for a reset. They were promptly penalised at the next scrum and although the Lions couldn’t turn this opportunity into points some warning signs were flashing.
There aren’t too many teams better than running down the opposition than the Lions at altitude in Johannesburg, where the Lions’ ability to turn the game into a series of set-piece contests is well known.
4. Lachlan McCaffrey is worth his weight in gold
There is a whisper going around that minus the heavy strapping and ice packs, Lachlan McCaffrey only weighs 75kg. The inspirational Brumbies back-rower seems to be constantly grimacing at some ache or pain – even when he runs on to the pitch for kick-off.
That only adds to his worth, because he has been the beating heart of the Brumbies over the first month or so.
He is doing a job not dissimilar to the one Stephen Hoiles did for the Waratahs a few years back – always in the right position and making the right decision.
The Brumbies were severely disrupted by injuries on Friday but McCaffrey is a game-changer is the best sense of the word.
5. What Wales’ grand slam means for the Wallabies’ RWC chances
Wales have been excellent in the Six Nations. In particular their defence has stood out and may even be the world’s best but it is not the only reason they are hard to break down.
They have two strong tactical kicking options in Gareth Anscombe and Dan Biggar, an extremely mobile and aggressive back row unit with Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric effectively operating as twin opensides, and an excellent kick chase and aerial game.
Wallabies fans will look at those list of attributes and conclude, then, that Wales are very well set up to beat the Wallabies in their Rugby World Cup pool. The Welsh will rise to the No 2-ranked nation in the world when the updated rankings are released on Monday and will be favourites to top the Wallabies’ pool at the World Cup.
That would likely put the Wallabies – if they finish second in the pool – on a collision course with England in the quarter-finals. It looks like a hard road to the semi-finals at the moment.
Australian Team of the Week 1. JP Smith (Reds)2. Folau Fainga’a (Brumbies)3. Ruan Smith (Reds)4. Sam Carter (Brumbies)5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Reds)6. Luke Jones (Rebels)7. Liam Wright (Reds)8. Lachlan McCaffrey (Brumbies)9. Will Genia (Rebels)10. Isaac Lucas (Reds)11. Henry Speight (Brumbies)12. Irae Simone (Brumbies)13. Samu Kerevi (Reds)14. Chris Feauai-Sautia (Reds)
15. Hamish Stewart (Reds)