Michael Burgess ' Opinion

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess: Cooper's 'A' game fails to show up

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Australia's Quade Cooper in action. Photo / Richard Robinson.
Australia's Quade Cooper in action. Photo / Richard Robinson.

It was not a good day for two of the great maverick talents of the world rugby codes.

After Benji Marshall had a highly forgettable match for the Kiwis, Australian star Quade Cooper failed to bring his true 'A' game to Eden Park.

The Wallaby playmaker did manage his more convincing display than he had for most of the tournament but put his team under tremendous pressure and cost them points with a series of needless errors in the first half.

An undoubted star at Super Rugby level, Cooper has yet to fully convince that he can reproduce that form at test level against top level opposition.

Berrick Barnes added something to the Wallabies when he came on in the second half and even Matt Giteau - last seen in a commentary box somewhere - may have been a better option for this semi final arena.

Cooper suffered the worst possible start - dumping a wobbly kick off out on the full. It gave the All Blacks the immediate initiative and they proceeded to spend the next 11 minutes in Wallaby territory.

They banked a try - and then gained a penalty after a Cooper knock on.

In the early part of the match he seemed to lack focus; he was chatting with James O'Connor during the New Zealand national anthem and at times it looked like he didn't want to be out there, as if you could see the fear in his eyes.

His decision making has not been sharp the whole tournament and continued in a bemusing 90 second spell midway through the first half. First he tried a low percentage chip and chase in his own territory - then - when Pocock had brilliantly stolen the ball back - the first five needlessly chipped the ball straight into touch.

His kicking for touch improved throughout the first half and he did take the ball strongly into contact at one point.

There was a brief moment of magic - dancing through five tackles on halfway but it wasn't in an area that could hurt the All Blacks.

His second half was slightly better and certainly the absence of Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper (in his normal position) did hamper Cooper as the usual backline fluency wasn't there.

He had moments - doing brilliantly to find support at one stage after being tackled and locked up - and then beat stepped past four defenders when running out of his own territory.

Cooper seemed to rediscover his mojo in the last half hour and for the first time in the tournament began to run on instinct and play what was in front of him.

Unfortunately for the Wallabies it was too little too late; his first half errors had cost points and territory and in the final wash up their forwards - especially the tight five - lost the breakdown battle and ultimately the match.

- APNZ

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Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday. He was named the 2013 New Zealand football writer of the year and was a finalist in the Sports Reporter of the year at the 2014 Canon Media Awards.

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