Wallabies: Eddie Jones’ blunder that is more costly than just the Bledisloe

Wallabies coach eddie jones and prop Taniela Tupou during the Bledisoe Cup and Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks. Credit: Alamy

Wallabies coach eddie jones and prop Taniela Tupou during the Bledisoe Cup and Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks. Credit: Alamy

The 38-7 defeat to the All Blacks in Melbourne on Saturday is set to come at a tremendous cost for Eddie Jones and the Wallabies.

While the six tries shipped and just one scored is concerning for Wallabies fans, seeing two tighthead props leave the pitch injured is even more so – the second of which could be highly detrimental to their Rugby World Cup hopes.

Australia showed signs of real improvement in the opening half of the fixture, particularly the first 20 minutes, as they held a 7-5 advantage over their trans-Tasman rivals.

However, discipline came back to bite them once again with Marika Koroibete visiting the sin bin – Australia’s fourth yellow card in three Tests – with the All Blacks striking to go up 12-7 while he was off the pitch.

Alaalatoa’s injury

Matters got worse for Jones and company when tighthead prop and captain on the day, Allan Alaalatoa, was carted off the pitch by the golf cart with an Achilles tendon injury that looks set to rule him out of the World Cup.

Taniela Tupou trotted on in his place in what was just his second game of the year after featuring for Australia ‘A’ against Tonga two weeks ago.

With limited time until the World Cup, it is completely understandable that Jones included Tupou in his matchday squad, but it’s what transpired while he was on the pitch where the Wallabies boss made his blunder.

Soon after Tupou’s introduction, the All Blacks extended their lead as Will Jordan dived over in the corner for his 23rd try in 23 Test matches to give the All Blacks a 19-7 half-time lead.

With the Wallabies still in with a hope of going 1-0 up in the Bledisloe Cup series, Jones makes a raft of changes shortly after half-time with the likes of Nic White, Quade Cooper, Richie Arnold, James Slipper, Jordan Uelese and Rob Loeta all entering the fray.

Tupou clearly struggling

However, shortly after making the wholesale changes, Tupou sustained what looked to be a back injury but was reported as a rib injury by the Australian commentators.

This occurred in the 48th minute when Tupou charged towards the All Blacks line after a quick tap penalty.

The 27-year-old received treatment and looked incredibly uncomfortable during the stoppage in play but would not be replaced and played on for nine minutes.

During these nine minutes that he was on the pitch, Tupou was involved in one maul, two completed scrums, made one carry, one pass and a tackle.

While he managed to get through his first maul involvement, scrum and carry without much sign of the injury taking effect, it was his pass that was telling.

After slinging the ball out from the base of the ruck, Tupou winced and fell to the ground, failing to get back into the game.

Remains on the pitch

At the next stoppage (54th minute), it looked as if Tupou would finally get replaced, with referee Wayne Barnes even calling his number while Angus Bell waited to be reintroduced.

However, it was not to be as even Tupou himself looked baffled as he was sent back to pack down in the scrum.

At this scrum, Ofa Tu’ungafasi dominates Tupou, but Barnes orders a reset.

Tupou is seen struggling to catch his breath, and it couldn’t have got easier as he folds almost immediately from the impact of the engage at reset scrum.

On the third attempt at the scrum, Tupou manages to withstand the impact of the engage and holds as the All Blacks launch an attack.

A few phases later and the tighthead makes a sloppy attempted tackle on Nepo Laualala that Barnes does not initially spot.

At this point, Tupou is finally replaced as Bell is reintroduced in his place, with James Slipper expected to switch to tighthead, a role he has played several times throughout his career both at Super Rugby and Test level.

But, Bell is soon sent back to the sidelines when the TMO reviews Tupou’s tackles and prompts Barnes of the incident.

Tupou is yellow carded

The English referee makes a sharp and accurate call to issue Tupou with the yellow card, rubbing salt in the Wallabies’ wounds and adding to Jones’ blunder in not replacing Tupou earlier.

The All Blacks swiftly made the most of their one-man advantage as Caleb Clarke forced his way over the line from close range, and from there, the momentum was firmly in their favour.

Mark Telea and Rieko Ioane put the finishing touches on the result with their tries as New Zealand retained the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup.

With Alaalatoa likely ruled out for the World Cup and now Tupou in doubt, particularly over whether he has enough time to get back to full match fitness after missing the entire Super Rugby season, one has question what Jones was thinking.

The Wallabies aren’t busting at the seams with tighthead prop options, highlighted by Zane Nonggorr making his debut against South Africa in round one with the inexperienced Pone Fa’amausili coming off the bench against Argentina.

In one swoop, Australia have potentially lost their two first-choice tighthead props for the World Cup, something few teams and the Wallabies, in particular, cannot afford.

Any team with hopes of winning the World Cup need to have a solid scrum, something which is not possible without quality tighthead props which Alaalatoa and Tupou are.

But now, they will be lucky if they have one of the two fully fit and firing for the tournament, and at the moment, it will be a challenge for Tupou.

A terrible blunder that Jones could have easily been avoided.

READ MORE: Wallabies player ratings: Two standouts in another poor performance

The article Wallabies: Eddie Jones’ blunder that is more costly than just the Bledisloe appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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