Defiant Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is refusing to blame inexperience for Australia’s heaviest defeat to the All Blacks in 117 years.
The Wallabies surrendered the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th straight year with a humiliating 43-5 loss at ANZ Stadium, then had to watch the jubilant New Zealanders rejoice after securing trans-Tasman bragging rights on Australian soil for the first time since 2009.
“We’re hurting a lot from that,” said Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.
Debutant playmaker Noah Lolesio bagged Australia’s only try but had an otherwise forgettable first game in the gold jumper, while three-Test winger Filipo Daugunu also underwhelmed as the Wallabies’ young guns performed more like boys against men.
“They were top notch and we were a long way off it tonight and that was reflected in the score,” Rennie said.
“There was certainly a gulf between the two performances.
What did Dave Rennie say at half time?! The Wallabies hit back through debutant Noah Lolesio after a great break by Jordan Petaia ?
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“As we talked about the last time we played the All Blacks, you can’t turn the ball over as often as we do. It puts a lot of pressure on us defensively.”
Rennie, though, said it would be unfair to pin the blame on Lolesio – or any of Australia’s other next-gen stars – for the humbling, record-breaking loss.
“We’re not going to use that as an excuse. We prepared well,” he said before explaining why Lolesio was subbed off in the 64th minute after a particularly poor kicking game in Sydney’s big wet.
“He’ll be happy to get one under his belt. He sort of was cramping. That’s the reason we took him off with about 20 to go.
“He didn’t get a hell of a lot of front-foot ball, did he? So he’ll learn a lot from that.”
Lolesio earned his first cap after James O’Connor, who started at 10 in Bledisloes I and II, was ruled out with a knee injury and Matt Toomua limped off in game two with a recurring groin injury.
Rennie expects O’Connor to be available for Saturday’s fourth and final Bledisloe, which doubles as the second Tri Nations game for the Wallabies and All Blacks in Brisbane.
“We’re not looking to throw Noah under the bus. We battled all over the place tonight,” Rennie said.
“We’ll assess and we’ll make a call.
“We’re five or six weeks into a four-year campaign. We’re gutted about the result and I must admit in Wellington before the first game I was nervous about an All Black performance that would find us under pressure but we showed a lot of character that night (in a 16-16 draw).
“All I can say is we’re going to keep working hard. We think we’ve got some good kids coming through.
“We need to respond immediately and the plan is you’ll see that next week.”
– Darren Walton
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