BIRMINGHAM, England, Sept 27, (AP): Australia’s second-string showed how to finish with an 11-try blitz, thumping Uruguay 65-3 in their Rugby World Cup Pool A match on Sunday.
Left winger Drew Mitchell scored two of them to take his test tally to 32 — including 12 in World Cups.
Flankers Sean McMahon and Ben McCalman also got two each, with centers Henry Speight, Matt Toomua, and Tevita Kuridrani, right winger Joseph Tomane, and lock and captain Dean Mumm also scoring.
“There are a few players that definitely put their hands up for selection, there’s no doubt about that,” Australia coach Michael Cheika said. “Uruguay have got no shortage of desire and they came hard at us. I enjoyed that part of the game.”
It was a fun warm-up for Australia ahead of next weekend’s massive game against England, which needs to bounce back after losing 28-25 to Wales.
Whoever loses that game could end up failing to qualify for the quarterfinals.
“We’re looking at our game to see how we can improve,” Cheika said. “Let’s be honest, we’re going to have to if we want to compete against England.”
Mitchell scored two clinical tries after the break, and now has a chance to overtake New Zealanders Doug Howlett (13) and Jonah Lomu (15) at this tournament for the most tries in World Cup history, although he has far tougher games coming up against England and Wales.
Australia picked up a bonus point in this rout, moving it level at the top of Pool A with Wales. Featuring 14 changes from the lineup that beat Fiji 28-13, Cheika’s side would have scored even more tries if not for some sloppy handling errors.
“More around some of the carrying around those channels, as opposed to the actual catching,” Cheika said, highlighting where Australia must improve. “I want everyone to do their job, the wide runners to do their job, run into space, and then if the opportunity is there, then pass.”
Australia scored from all angles, giving Quade Cooper some difficult conversion attempts, and the mercurial flyhalf converted only five from 11.
He did better with his passing, however, setting up three tries.
There were some heated exchanges during the match, with a couple of bouts of pushing and shoving.
The Australians got irritated a few times by Los Teros, and Cooper was sin-binned for swinging an arm into scrumhalf Agustin Ormaechea’s neck in the 15th minute.
“We will appeal that,” Cheika said. “I feel like that hit was across the shoulder.”
While Cooper was off, Uruguay flyhalf Felipe Berchesi nailed a clean kick from 30 meters to make it 12-3 behind, prompting huge cheers from their fans at Villa Park.
That was as good as it got.
“We tried with our lineout, maul, scrum … we had Australia in front of us,” Uruguay captain and lock Santiago Vilaseca said. “We’re a little bit disappointed, because we wanted a try and we couldn’t get it.”
Soon after, Mumm fended off right winger Leandro Leivas and touched down in the right corner.
Mitchell finally got his act together and, following a sweeping move from right to left, he fed Speight for a swallow dive into the right corner. Cooper converted for 24-3, and turned provider with another clever pass, setting up McCalman under the crossbar.
Mitchell opened the second-half floodgate, jinking through four tackles down the right, and then finishing off a wraparound move on the left thanks to another Cooper assist.
The eighth try came when McCalman collected a quick feed from Kurtley Beale and ignored Mitchell’s calls for a hat trick.
After that, Uruguay still had 18 minutes of punishment left.
McMahon peeled off another rolling maul, Beale flicked a sweet pass to Toomua, and replacement Kuridrani had just enough time to round off the scoring.