Hello! Whether you’re reading this from Disappointment Hill in Western Australia, Nether Wallop in Hampshire, or any parish in-between, welcome to this live blog of the third and final Test of the 2016 Cook Cup between Australia and England.
I must say it’s hard to know exactly how tonight’s game will play out. With England having won the two previous encounters, in Brisbane and Melbourne, this Test, to be played in Sydney, is, if you’ll excuse my French, a dead rubber. What effect will that have on the outcome? Having claimed their first ever series win in Australia — and surely having celebrated that fact with few cheeky half pints and a round of low fat crisps — will England be sated and thus vulnerable to a Wallabies side smarting from making history for all the wrong reasons?
The Wallabies will certainly be disappointed with how this series has played out. Off their game in Brisbane — a fact put down to rustiness as they hadn’t played since October — they had hoped to bounce back in Melbourne. But on wet grass and shifting sands they came up against a impenetrable, barbarian-repelling wall, the kind we haven’t seen since Hadrian put down his trowel and declared, “Tha’ should keep them bleedin’ foxes out of me ’en ’ouse!”
It must be said, the Wallabies did themselves no favours with the kind of handling you’d expect from cheap-as-chips furniture removalists. No sooner would they manoeuvre themselves into a good position than someone would drop the ball. I put that down to the Wallabies runners taking nervous looks at the mean England defenders. Still, the Wallabies enjoyed about 70% possession yet it wasn’t enough to win. That, again, speaks volumes for England’s effort.
Michael Cheika, midweek, said Australia wouldn’t be abandoning its philosophical belief in running rugby despite the failures of the past two Tests. Fair play, too. Knee-jerk reactions are not what we need in a rugby coach, and when the Aussies click they click like well-oiled shears. It was my feeling, however, that they went wide too early too often, before drawing in the England wide men.
Meantime, England’s Eddie Jones — who, treasonous as it may seem to his fellow Australians, has transformed the England team from the pool ponies they were at the World Cup — has primed his side for a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to whitewash the Wallabies in their own backyard and, at the same time, make fools of the Australian press, who he said are “not so smart” now.
I never said I was all that smart, so I assume he doesn’t mean me.
Anyway, welcome once again, and, if you’re of a mind, drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org). Predictions? Thoughts on the meaning of life? And will the UK’s Brexit trigger a renewal of the Commonwealth and a return to the glory days when every bar-person in London was either an Australian or a Kiwi?
Kick-off: 8pm local (11am UK time).