One of the most pleasing things for new Test coach Dave Rennie was the disappointment in the Wallabies changeroom after their 16-16 Bledisloe Cup draw in Wellington.
Smashed 36-0 by the All Blacks the last time they played in New Zealand and without a win there in 19 years, a draw would have satisfied most Wallabies teams of late.
But Rennie, who took over from Michael Cheika after their World Cup disappointment, described it as a missed opportunity given their second-half dominance.
With three more Tests to play in the series, the next at Auckland’s Eden Park, the Wallabies only need to win their two matches at home to take the Bledisloe Cup trophy back after an 18-year absence.
“There’s three Tests left – we had to win three anyway and now we have to win two – so from that perspective it’s not a bad result but we’re certainly not satisfied with the draw,” Rennie said.
“We’ve had three weeks together and we will get a lot better but we know the All Blacks will be a lot better next week too.
“We’re disappointed as we had a chance today and didn’t take it so we’re certainly not celebrating in the change-room.”
The Kiwi coach has restored confidence in the players battered by years of trans-Tasman beat-downs, while the injection of new blood has also revived the Australian troops.
Their game plan troubled the All Blacks and their ability to change tactics to suit the wet and windy conditions also showed their growth.
But Rennie was quick to highlight areas for improvement.
Apart from their game management in not going for a match-winning drop goal, he said their discipline – giving away 14 penalties – and work at the breakdown needed to improve
“We saw last year where the Wallabies hammered the All Blacks in Perth and then lost 36-0 the following week,” he said.
“For us it’s got to be how we back-up.
“What I liked seeing is the disappointment in the guys in the change-room.”
Rennie’s home town of Upper Hutt is just out of Wellington and he said his New Zealand-based family were now on board with the Wallabies.
“It was pretty special for me personally as I had my three sons and partners, two grand-daughters, all wearing yellow and that impressed me.
“But in the end it’s about the team and I’m really proud of the effort.”
– Melissa Woods
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