Rugby World Cup
Sean McMahon stars but won't challenge Michael Hooper or David Pocock for start vs. England
Sam Bruce
September 27, 2015
Australia 65-3 (Australia only)

The Wallabies' second-stringers had a chance to push their case for inclusion in the blockbuster against England at Twickenham on Saturday, yet only a handful of players gave Michael Cheika even something to think about ahead of the selection meeting.

Uruguay represented the ideal opportunity for the "B-Team" to send Cheika a message with a polished, physical and commanding display, but only back-rowers Sean McMahon and Ben McCalman stepped up to the challenge - and they have the almost impossible challenge of deposing Michael Hooper and David Pocock.

McMahon in particular, was superb as the Wallabies defeated Uruguay 65-3. The Melbourne Rebels back-rower was the shock inclusion in the Wallabies' World Cup squad, a call Cheika later explained was down to the 21-year-old's "energy" and a hugely physical approach to training. And he has shown enough to suggest he is set for a long career in the gold jersey; he was a standout against the United States Eagles in Chicago, and a clear Man of the Match in Birmingham.

His game at Villa Park began at the opening whistle when he fielded the kick-off, bumped of a couple of tackles and immediately made 20 metres to thunder the Wallabies onto the front foot. Deputising for Pocock as chief maul controller, McMahon soon had a five-pointer as the Wallabies kicked to the corner, as they'd done against Fiji in Cardiff, and rumbled over from close range. The Uruguayans, much like the Pacific Islanders, had no answer for the Wallabies' main strike weapon.

Sean McMahon posted the opening try of the afternoon. Getty Images/2015 Getty Images

McMahon was back in the action almost immediately as he fielded the ensuing kick-off and again powered through the chasing South Americans. The Wallabies spun the ball wide a couple of breakdowns later and, after a clever grubber kick, had a second five-pointer through Joe Tomane.

The two-time champions then lost their way. First Quade Cooper was sin-binned for a slinging tackle that may yet create some problems given his recent record, before a succession of passes were pushed and, ultimately, hit the deck. But there was no decline in McMahon's game, and he finished with a second five-pointer, again via the maul, and a stats sheet that will likely earn the kudos of Cheika.

Australia thrash Uruguay
%]

McCalman, meanwhile, was probably second-best behind McMahon. He too grabbed a brace of tries, the first via a sublime inside ball from Cooper - one of the fly-half's better moments of a mixed match. He has for some time found himself in and out of Wallabies sides, but he showed on Sunday signs of the form that have seen him carry the rather large weight of Western Force on his back for the past few Super Rugby seasons.

McMahon and McCalman, though, are likely to be in the stands at Twickenham, as there is no way Cheika will break up the combination of Pocock and Hooper - particularly after England's back-rowers went missing in the closing stages of their loss to Wales.

Of the players who could have perhaps worked their way into the squad to face England, Cooper and Drew Mitchell were too inconsistent. Mitchell finished with a double but suffered a dire case of the fumbles early on, while Cooper's yellow card and wayward goal-kicking will ensure Bernard Foley retains the No.10 jersey for the England game at least.

Nick Phipps was solid and remains in a tight battle with Will Genia at half-back; the Waratahs No.9 clearly enjoyed playing behind a dominant pack in Birmingham.

Next stop is Twickenham. McMahon certainly won't look out of place at the home of English rugby; but, for now, he'll just have to bide his time.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Azerbaijan GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Boxing - Nelson v Wilson; Simmons v Dickinson; Joshua v Gavern (Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle)
    Golf - Houston Open
    Snooker - China Open
    Tennis - Miami Open