Disbelief over Wallabies’ lingering weakness

It seems simple but proved anything but as a familiar Achilles heel plagued the Wallabies throughout their Test series loss against England.

After scoring points, an inability to then cleanly receive re-starts and exit their own end of the park repeatedly let the tourists off the hook and invited them back into the contest.

It was frustrating for all involved and a hot topic of conversation on Stan Sports’ Between Two Posts as they dissected the series that got away.

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“Historically the Wallabies’ issue has been too many phases before exiting,” former Wallaby Morgan Turinui observed.

“Now they’re trying to do it a little bit more proactively but it’s about, first, catch and who you have at that first breakdown. That your kick-chase numbers are right, organizationally right and having good options as kickers.

“The issue is there’s no one silver bullet, for mine, around it. It’s either poor catch, poor lift, poor breakdown, poor organization of kick-chase line, not sure whether to box kick or go back into the pocket – there’s lots of little issues there. All they can do is keep practicing and push through but it’s such an important part of the game.”

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All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens said the odds at rugby re-starts were stacked in favor of the team kicking off as they know where the ball is going and don’t have to over-commit to the ruck.

“Suddenly they’ve got a defensive line that’s got more numbers in it than the attacking line,” Mehrtens identified.

“The only way the team receiving the ball can do anything is just move it really quickly.

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“If they get quick ball, they drop back some of the players but getting everyone organized to rip back, get in position and then attack out is fraught with danger.

“And teams up against sophisticated defences, they don’t want to risk running out of their 22 at this stage of the game when they’re up against this big defensive line.

“If it’s executed well, it’s pretty hard to do anything else but you’ve got to get a good kick in somewhere, don’t you.”

Commentator Sean Maloney said it almost defied belief that the Wallabies were still struggling with the basics after three Tests.

“I don’t understand why it’s so hard to get out of your 22 after you’ve just scored points.”

But of course it’s not the only Wallabies work-on as they reset for their next assignment against Michael Cheika’s Pumas in Salta on August 7.

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Dave Rennie’s side dominated the early stages of the series decider at the SCG but wayward passes from Reece Hodge and Taniela Tupou – and a poor decision from Nic White – proved costly.

“The Wallabies had done all the work – that game should almost have been over after 30 minutes,” Turinui said.

“The Wallabies were encouraged by the space they were finding but there’s a little bit more desperation around trying to convert points. Looking at the scoreboard going ‘gee, we’ve had all the play, we’ve had all the carries, we’ ve found space, we’re playing well, how is it that that’s the score?’

“They almost put themselves under more pressure to score points and then England did what they did just before halftime.”

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