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Fixing the malfunctioning lineout key to Wallabies going back-to-back

By AAP
Eben Etzebeth of the Springboks and Darcy Swain of the Wallabies compete for the ball in the lineout during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and the South African Springboks at Adelaide Oval on August 27, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Fixing a barely functioning lineout looks the key to the Wallabies backing up their hard-fought win against South Africa with another victory this Saturday night.

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Heading to Sydney’s new Allianz Stadium, the hosts will need to prove individual brilliance didn’t paper over the cracks in their 25-17 win against the Springboks, with a set-piece lift needed after winning just seven of their 13 lineouts in the Adelaide Test.

Discipline could also be a factor in Saturday’s rematch, the Wallabies conceding 16 penalties compared to the Springboks’ nine as they had to dig deep at times to hold their opponents out.

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Flanker Jed Holloway said a game review had highlighted plenty of plays from Adelaide that could be exploited if they don’t tidy up.

“We’re hugely disappointed in the way our lineout functioned, but we’ve been working hard on that … we reviewed quite hard and we will be better for that,” he told reporters.

“(And) our work ethic … working harder off the ball, there’s opportunities we didn’t capitalise on out there.

“Our preparation has been around building consistency because it’s something we haven’t done yet, put together back-to-back performances.

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“It’s purely being better and being ready for them to also be better as well.”

They’ll also need to address their woeful record of inconsistency, with just one multiple-game win streak since coach Dave Rennie took over in 2019.

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That will certainly be vital if they’re to pinch the Championship title for the first time since 2015, with Rennie’s men level on nine points with Argentina halfway through the tournament.

But they’ve got every reason to start dreaming of making some history, with Holloway pointing to emerging squad depth as driving the side to high standards.

A star-studded bench at the weekend featured guns including impact props Taniela Tupou and Scott Sio, hulking lock Darcy Swain and flyer Andrew Kellaway, Holloway praising their collective attitude as influential.

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“Everyone in this squad wants to represent their country and wear that gold jersey on the weekend,” he said.

“The competition within the squad is really driving us to be better.

“The best thing about it … guys are disappointed when the team is announced, but they all park that, it’s all about focusing on making that 23 better on gameday.

“There aren’t egos here, once that decision is made everyone’s focusing on getting better … definitely the competition and the return of guys is really driving that amongst our group.”

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finn 5 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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