Mistakes lead to humiliating defeat for Wallabies back ups

Disjointed and ill-disciplined Australia A were beaten 31-26 at the death by Samoa in a thrilling start to the Pacific Nations Cup tournament in Fiji.

Fraser McReight, the heir apparent to Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper, was outstanding for the Wannabies, crossing for two tries and doing a mountain of excellent defensive work, but the defeat ultimately came down to two completely avoidable try concessions in the second half.

Australia A, boasting eight players who had been capped for the Test team, started terribly against a side with eight debutants and were behind within minutes, going to the sheds at halftime down19-12.

Although they fought back to level twice in the second half with three tries including two spectacular backline efforts, they were overcome by basic mistakes – first losing control of their ball at their own scrum and then seeing Lalakai Foketi gift an intercept try on the final play .

“Discipline really hurt us in the first half,” said Aus A skipper Ryan Lonergan. “Samoa were able to capitalize on their territory. Then we built somewhat of a comeback there in the second half but unfortunately, they got that try right at the end.

Australian A vs Samoa during the World Rugby Pacific Nations match between Australia A and Samoa at HFC Stadium on July 2, 2022 in Suva, Fiji.  (Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

Australian A vs Samoa during the World Rugby Pacific Nations match.(Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

“They probably deserved it after our first half. Our speed around the park was quite slow. It might be the heat getting to us and that’s something we might address.”

Jason Gilmore’s Australian team looked like they had been thrown together at the last minute, with a complete lack of cohesion. The lineout was a mess as Bill Pollard struggled to find his jumpers, the centers barely saw the ball and there was an absence of structure on both sides of the ball.

Three penalty concessions in the first few minutes gave Samoa an opening and hooker Seilala Lam crossed for an easy opener.

South African referee Jacob Peyper was hammering the Australians and lost patience, sending Ryan Smith to the bin moments after Samoa’s debutant winger Nigel Ah-Wong crossed for the first of his two tries.

McReight nabbed his first out of nowhere, toeing the ball across the try line from 10 meters out and winning the race to the ball – he showed similar fleet of foot in the second half when the Aussies leveled at 19-all as he cased down a Tane Edmed kick through.

At that stage – 16 minutes into the second half – it looked like the Australians would tear home on momentum, but Samoa went back in front as Jonathan Taumateine ​​scored from an Australian scrum feed on their own 22. The ball somehow popped out on the blindside and the blond-mopped scrum half, who had earlier had played held up to remove a necklace he’d worn on the field, tore off for the softest of tries.

Australia came again through Lonergan and then James Tuttle finishing off long range beauties, but the final act summed up a game where the Aussies were undone by their own hands.

Foketi had the ball in his 22 and with moments on the clock pushed a pass towards the wing. Ah-Wong stretched out a mitt and had a joyful stroll to the try line.

McReight aside, few of the Aussies showed they should have been picked in the full team to play England tonight, although Reece Hodge showed his incredible kicking range with some monster punts.

Edmed looked out of sports and struggled to bring Hamish Stewart into the game while Jock Campbell was far from perfect but had some good moments.

The Samoans, as inexperienced as the team was, clearly showed the benefits of a Moana Pasifika team in the SRP competition.

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