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How the Wallabies can bounce back


John Eales

So Robbie Deans and the Wallabies have just seven days to turn around an eight-point deficit. From some of their comments after the disappointing 27-19 loss to the All Blacks in the opening match of the inaugural Rugby Championship, it wouldn't take too long to collate an eight-point list for them to focus on.

But eight points are far too many to focus on in one week. Rather, they need to identify one or two areas where improvement, and a couple of surprises, might provide enough ammunition to challenge the world's best rugby side.

The first question needs to address their strategy and the execution of that strategy. Was it poor strategy or poor execution which cost the Wallabies?

Sometimes it demands more fortitude to assess that the strategy was correct but the execution poor as this means you will advance with a very similar plan. An improved result will bring some solace and perhaps vindication but a similar result will be decorated by an uncomfortable rouge to your cheeks.

The closeness of this scoreline and the fact the Wallabies were somehow in the match until the final minute says more about their character than the scrappy sub-schoolboy errors.

There is no chump-time against the All Blacks; one must work to etch every single point on the scoreboard and likewise scrap to save those agin them.

Outside of eliminating unforced errors like dropping balls under little or no pressure and harried and rash decision-making like taking quick taps when three points are in the offing, I would focus on two areas, pronto – one, accuracy in contact in both attack and defence, and two, the composition of the bench.

One of the most imposing aspects of the All Blacks' performance was their bright and obstinate defence. Defence is only partially about being able to tackle. More so it is founded on a comprehensive and interlinked chain of events, culminating in the ability to tackle.

It starts with slowing the opposition's ball. A stationary target is surer game than a moving target – you don't need to read about ancient Chinese warlord Sun Tzu to understand that.

The All Blacks are the masters at decreasing the revs. They do so mainly through the constructiveness of their first man at the breakdown and the destructiveness of their later arrivals. On the ball first, counter rucking second. Even if they don't effect a turnover, they compromise the quality of their opposition's attacking options. The result is that tackling becomes easy.

So then, as an opposition, when a side is defensively imposing, you must look for ways to counter their consistency. This can be done through speed, building pressure, deception or through a combination of the above. The common denominator, though, must be accuracy. Accuracy in contact facilitates speed and speed, when combined with sound skills and substantive tactics, rears opportunity and opportunity, in turn, delivers hope.

The counter to this, of course, is that Australia's defence was not similarly good, nor was our tackling as we allowed tries through both one-on-one misses and pure deception. A good analysis of the video and some role clarity will help here.

Also, while bench composition is more pseudo-science than science, I would address the five-two make-up of the Wallabies' seven reserves and plump for the inclusion of one Q. Cooper. While I can appreciate the rationale for not selecting Cooper in the starting XV, he should have headlined an enticing arsenal off the bench. He might now go straight back in.

The Wallabies are second in the world for two reasons: we are some way behind the best and have been somewhat better, or at least more consistent, than the rest.

From the evidence of Saturday night, both in Sydney and in the Springboks' comfortable 27-6 victory over Argentina in Cape Town, the latter margin seems the most vulnerable.

From here, the manner in which the Wallabies progress on their recent five victories from six outings against the Springboks and how they handle the challenge of the Argentinians will determine their status in world rugby.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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