Rugby Championship focus: Australia

With the 2022 Rugby Championship upon us we take a look at the form of the four teams involved, with the focus here on Australia.

What they did in the July Tests

Following an incredible win (30-28) in the opening Test of their series against England, with 14 men and key injury disruptions, Australia then lost the second (17-25) and third Tests (17-21) to allow the tourists to keep the Ella-Mobbs [formerly Cook] Cup they have had since 2012.

In the first Test, in Perth, Australia lost lock Darcy Swain to a red card in the 34th minute and had already lost flyhalf Quade Cooper just before kickoff with a calf strain. Prop Allan Alaalatoa went off in the first half with concussion and fullback Tom Banks broke his arm.

But a remarkable second half saw the Wallabies score three tries in the last 17 minutes to take control of the game, England scoring two consolation tries in and after the final minute.

Having beaten England for the first time since 2015, Australia went to Brisbane confident of wrapping up the series, but, beaten in the collisions and the territory battle, had to fight back from 19-0 down to pile on the pressure at 17-22 against 14 men. But a key lineout miss saw England survive and then seal victory with a penalty.

The third Test again saw the Wallabies’ rearguard action fall short as they came back from 10-21 down in the final quarter, but still fell short.

What they did in the 2021 Rugby Championship

Coach Dave Rennie breathed new life into Australia’s challenge in the southern hemisphere competition as he steered them to second place and four successive wins in the tournament for the first time.

The Rugby Championship did not start well for the Wallabies, though, as they set a new low for most points conceded against the All Blacks, going down 57-22 at Eden Park to also allow their neighbours a 19th-straight year of holding the Bledisloe Cup.

Another sparkling All Blacks display in Perth saw Australia lose 38-21, although the contest was closer with New Zealand scoring two intercept tries.

But with Quade Cooper restored at flyhalf and playing his first Test in four years, the Wallabies’ fortunes turned with successive wins against the Springboks.

Cooper snatched a 28-26 win on the Gold Coast with a long-range, angled penalty after the final hooter, and then backline stars Len Ikitau and Marika Koroibete both scored twice as Australia ran South Africa ragged in a 30-17 bonus point win in Brisbane.

A 27-8 victory over Argentina in Townsville and then a 32-17 triumph over the Pumas, wing Andrew Kellaway scoring a hat-trick, saw the Wallabies break new ground in the Rugby Championship.

Rugby Championship 2022 Fixtures

August 6: Mendoza, v Argentina

August 13: San Juan, v Argentina

August 27: Adelaide, v South Africa

September 3: Sydney, v South Africa

September 15: Melbourne, v New Zealand

September 24: Auckland, v New Zealand