The Australia coach Robbie Deans faces a severe injury crisis, particularly in the midfield backs, after his side put their surprise loss to Ireland behind them with a 67-5 victory over the United States yesterday.
Winger Adam Ashley-Cooper scored three tries in seven minutes in the second half for the Wallabies, who had been heavily criticised for their 15-6 loss to Ireland last week, but showed this time how dangerous they can be when allowed to control the pace of the game.
Australia ran in 11 tries, several from more than 50 metres out, but Deans faces injury concerns after the centre Anthony Faingaa was knocked unconscious in the final minute of the Pool C encounter, while fellow midfield back Rob Horne has a fractured cheekbone and Pat McCabe dislocated his shoulder.
Full-back Kurtley Beale also "tightened up" and was replaced shortly before half-time, while the No 8 Wycliff Palu had to come off with a hamstring complaint.
"It's pretty extensive, the full extent we don't know," Deans said after the match, which ended with replacement No 8 Radike Samo playing on the wing. "We may have to [call people into the squad], we will have to see what the medics say. We have an eight-day turnaround and... we will wait until we have learnt the full extent of it before we make any decisions."
The injuries came on top of concerns over Digby Ioane (thumb) and David Pocock (back), who were not considered for the US match while James O'Connor (hamstring) and captain James Horwill (shoulder) were given time off to try to recover.
Australia play Russia in Nelson on 1 October and are likely to finish second in the pool – which could mean a meeting with South Africa in the quarter-finals and then New Zealand in the semi-finals should both sides make the final four.
Yesterday's match may have pleased Deans with the result and the support play and width they achieved, but he will remind the Wallabies they will not get as much quick ball or space against better sides in the knockout phase.
The US captain, Tim Usasz, reflected on the defeat: "I thought we had a good first half... we ran out of steam at the end but I'm immensely proud of the guys. That's the difference when you play the best sides in the world, they really punish you for your mistakes."Reuse content