MELBOURNE - The Wallabies have to improve or should not bother turning up for their World Cup semifinal against the All Blacks, according to Australian press reports yesterday.
Australia's performance in beating Scotland 33-16 on Saturday night was not in the same league as New Zealand's 29-9 swamping of South Africa, said the Sunday Sun Herald newspaper, prompting the headline: "Wallabies win as the Kiwis grin."
Rugby writer Peter Jenkins said that if Australia produced another first half as they did at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, they would be "bushwacked" in Saturday's transtasman showdown against the All Blacks in Sydney.
"The Wallabies have their semifinal berth, World Cup organisers have their dream showdown, and the All Blacks have their hands to their mouths trying to hide toothy smiles," Jenkins wrote.
A key difference between the sides was in the backs, according to other stories in the same newspaper.
"Every fan of attacking, pulsating, fast-paced rugby should rejoice," it said of New Zealand's win, before turning on two of Australia's high-profile league converts.
"Both [Wendell] Sailor and [Mat] Rogers made you wish they were playing not just another code but in another country."
Melbourne's Sunday Age dubbed the defending champions "The Wobblies" and writer Greg Baum used two different analogies when comparing the All Blacks and the Springboks.
"There were two brick walls, but New Zealand was the thinking man's brick wall," and "South Africa was the dam, NZ the tsunami."
Baum said the All Blacks had made more of an impact on the field than off it, suggesting their low profile in Melbourne was the reason for the small crowd numbers.
"They will not care; they came on a mission, not as missionaries. Now they are gone [to Sydney], which at least spares Melbourne a further sighting of a handful of old, beige New Zealand World Series cricket uniforms," he wrote.
Veteran South African journalist Dan Retief was scathing of the Springboks, who, he said, "were so outclassed that one might have been watching a mismatch between teams from different leagues."
"The sobering truth was that the All Blacks should have won by a much greater margin, so superior were their skills and expertise.
"Right from the start the much-vaunted Springboks pack failed to exert any influence, never mind domination."