It’s no fluke that the Wallabies got the better of the All Blacks in the disciplinary department in their opening Bledisloe Cup match with coach Michael Cheika making it a focus.
The penalty count in Perth was 8-4 in favour of the Wallabies, allowing five-eighth Christian Lealiifano to slot three penalty goals in the commanding 47-26 victory.
In contrast, the repeated All Blacks infringements cruelled their ability to build pressure while they were forced to play a man down for the entire second half after lock Scott Barrett was sent off.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen slammed his side for playing “dumb” football – an accusation he threw at the Wallabies last year after hooker Tolu Latu’s yellow card.
It was just the sixth match from the Wallabies’ last 30 Tests over the past two years that they have won the penalty count. It was also their lowest in eight years.
Last year alone they won just one – which contributed to their dire four from 13 win-loss record.
Lock Rory Arnold felt the penny had dropped for the team.
“I think it’s just knowing that in big games at international level, a full-on penalty, it’s the corner, they can all hit them from 50m out,” Arnold said.
“It puts your team under a lot of pressure and can be the difference in those games, so just knowing that and trying not to give away those penalties.
His teammate, prop Taniela Tupou, said turning around the poor disciplinary record had been something the team had been working hard on.
Tupou got a yellow card for a dangerous clean-out in the Wallabies Rugby Championship loss to South Africa last month in Johannesburg.
“When playing against Argentina this one time I went to hit the ruck and same thing happened as in Africa so I stopped and thought, ‘No I’m not going to do that, cause I don’t want any card’,” Tupou said.
“I learnt my lesson so I’ve got to be more careful on what I’m doing.”
Barrett’s dangerous shoulder charge red card came after he made contact with the head of Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper.
Arnold said taller players such as himself and Barrett had to always be mindful of their body height when making contact with smaller players.
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