Wallabies scrum woes continue
The Wallabies’ Achilles heel – the scrum – was monstered again in a Bledisloe demolition job as they struggle to “a completely different beast” under the new laws.
Coach Ewen McKenzie staunchly defended his dazed and confused set-piece despite a second-half onslaught by the All Blacks in their 27-16 second Test win on Saturday night.
Struggling to come to terms with the new crouch-bind-engage packing process, Australia’s pack gave away two tight-heads and were also penalised twice as many times as the home side.
Scrum anchor Ben Alexander endured a forgettable night at Westpac Stadium up against 100-Test veteran Tony Woodcock and was replaced after giving away three points in the 52nd minute.
It’s the second time in three Tests Australia have been outgunned at the set piece and Alexander’s place, in particular, is in danger heading to Brisbane for the September 7 Test against South Africa.
But McKenzie, who played 51 Tests as a tight-head prop, blamed the new engagement process for much of their troubles.
“It was a bit of a lottery there,” he said. “They obviously had a couple of good ones.
“To be honest, I don’t understand what’s going on.
“I used to be able to work out it out but now I don’t know what’s a penalty and what isn’t.
“I’ve honestly got no idea and I used to play in the front-row, I’m lost.
“It’s a completely different beast now.”
Skipper James Horwill admitted there was confusion from both sides about what referee Jaco Peyper wanted from the front-rows and what was penalisable.
McKenzie was baffled why some scrum laws were important to the IRB and referees at present while others were irrelevant.”
“I don’t see why we favour some and not the other,” he said. “You can grab anything you like there.”
But the scrum did not decide the match in Australia’s 15th straight loss to the All Blacks on New Zealand soil.
It was the Wallabies inability to take their chances while McKenzie admitted the world champions “made it look easy” when they had try-scoring opportunities.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen agreed it was the biggest factor, with Ben Smith scoring a double in the last 13 minutes of the first half after Australia dominated to that point without crossing.
The Wallabies only five-pointer came when Israel Folau intercepted a Ma’a Nonu cut-out pass with eight minutes left.
“When we had opportunities we scored tries,” Hansen said. “Whereas they created opportunities but, other than the intercept, didn’t get one.”
Australia’s only injury worry is loose-head prop James Slipper who was knocked out late in th first half.© AAP 2013
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