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'Of course it's a setback': Wallabies looking for answers after England loss

By Jack O'Rourke
Nic White. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

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Wallabies coach Dave Rennie was left to rue missed opportunities yet again as Australia fell to their eighth consecutive loss to England in front of a boisterous crowd at Twickenham.

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Against all odds, the Wallabies were right in the game up until the 70th minute, but poor execution and ill discipline stifled the Wallabies attack. When opportunities did present themselves, the Wallabies were not able to capitalise, and England’s stranglehold on the game eventually took its toll. The Wallabies conceded their second try late in the game to blow out the lead. 

Reflecting on the loss in the post-match press conference, Rennie lamented that they weren’t able to put paid to chances created, a recurring theme from the Wallabies in recent years. 

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“We couldn’t get anything going. We got hammered in the penalty count. The possession and territory stats were in the sixties in favour of England and they choked us down there. We made too many errors and dumb penalties that put us under pressure. It’s frustrating.”

“There was a lot of character shown tonight. At halftime, we hadn’t had a lot of territory or ball, but at 16-12 we fought hard, and we felt if we could have strung a few phases together we could put them under a bit of heat. We weren’t able to execute and weren’t good enough tonight.”

When quizzed on whether he thought the Wallabies were unfairly treated by the ref, Rennie conceded that it was down to the players to fix their discipline. 

“We’re not going to complain about Jaco’s refereeing. I thought he controlled the game pretty well. Most of the issues were our own doing. We got ourselves in a good position with the ball but we got stripped about three times. We’ve got to be better.

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“We were turning over too much ball. [There were] some individual mistakes and it put us under pressure.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hopper echoed Rennie’s sentiments, adding that the Wallabies were inaccurate and failed to build momentum. 

“It’s frustrating. We were not able to play the game we wanted to play. We certainly weren’t able to unlock the England defence. We felt starved of the ball and they did well to keep us in our end of the field.”

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For the Wallabies, a bright light in the test match was their defensive shift, which made some crucial stops at important moments, particularly Nic White’s timing to knock the ball out of Jamie George’s hand as he attempted to score. Rennie was quick to point out that they need to turn that defensive pressure around and put points on at the other end. 

“There’s plenty of courage and character in this group. What we need to be able to do is score points on the back of that good defence.”

Attention now turns to their final match of the spring tour against Wales. The two nations have had some great battles over their years, most recently in the pool stages of the 2019 World Cup. Rennie and the Wallabies will target this match for a win to end their season.

“It’s hugely important. The support we have back at home, and the support we have here deserve better. We definitely want to finish on a high.”

They will look to arrest the shift in momentum since embarking on the spring tour, with Rennie admitting they have not met expectations. 

“Of course it’s a setback. The plan was to come over and keep building on that [momentum]. We haven’t performed with the accuracy and consistency that we needed over here. They [Northern Hemisphere teams] ask a lot of questions of you. There’s a lot of ball in the air and they play plenty of territory. You don’t get a lot of opportunities at this level. You have to be disciplined, and you have to be accurate. We were neither tonight.”

In some good news, Rennie expects Allan Allalatoa and Taniela Tupou to be available for the Wales game, while Hooper left the field with a foot injury in the second half against England but is hoping to be fit for next weekend.

“I have done something to my foot,” Hopper offered post-game. “We will take a look at how it looks.”

“It feels alright. The staff have buoyed me a bit with how it is so that’s good. It was a part of a tackle, so just a rugby injury.”

When asked about his chances to recover in time to meet Wales, Hooper said: “I’ll give it every chance I can.”

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