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REACTION: Everything 'grumpy' Rennie said, including left field excuse for 'frustrating' win

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25th September, 2021
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After the high of the Wallabies’ stirring double defeat of the World Champion Springboks, their performance against Argentina carried a sense of deflation for coach Dave Rennie.

The Wallabies made hard work of a 27-8 win over Los Pumas in Townsville, but Rennie’s disappointment at least shows how far this team has come in less than a year, after two draws with this opponent in 2020.

It was a subdued Rennie who fronted the post-match media conference.

“We’re always looking for perfection aren’t we? I just thought last week we were really clinical,” Rennie said before suggesting his players might hve been put off by the similarity of the jerseys.

The Pumas played in a dark blue and black kits, and the Australians were in their dark green indigenous heritage kit rather than their usual gold.

“It was not as clinical tonight. We need to be better there and we’ll review that,” said Rennie.

“I don’t know whether the dark green and dark blue jerseys had any affect around the decisions the boys made. Looking from upstairs there were some clear draw pass opportunities to put someone free.”

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He added, jokingly: “So it gives us a chance to be grumpy through the review after a win.”

Rennie said his frustration stemmed from Australia’s inability to shake off the Pumas challenge, allowing the South Amercians to dictate the game in the first 20 minutes after half time.

“There’s probably a bit of frustration in that we had a lot of opportunities late to put them out of the game and didn’t do the obvious,” Rennie said.

“You’ve got to throw one more pass. But we worked hard, we had to sustain a lot of pressure 20 minutes after half time. I guess mixed emotions – happy to win but we need to be better.

“We made a few errors and got punished.

“It was a pretty fast first half. We got a lot of really quick ball and felt the Pumas were just hanging in. They were able to control the ball and the pace of the game in the third 20 and that made it difficult for us to put the foot on the throat.

“We were probably lucky to get a couple of penalties turned over which helped us wrestle momentum back but first time we got back down their end in the second half we should have scored [a try] but we only got three points for it.

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“We had a number of line breaks late in the game where we give it to the guy next to us and we score. In tight games we’ve got to be clinical and that’s something to look at.”

Rennie said there were positives in the return of James O’Connor as a second half replacement and the form of Samu Kerevi, Australia’s most destructive runner once again.

“It’s obviously great for Rabs to be back in the Test arena – he’s missed out on every Test this year through injury so he’ll take a bit of confidence out of that.”

On Kerevi he added: “Hhe was excellent again. It’s just his ability to break tackles and get in behind defence and create problems. Excellent in every game he’s played so far.”

The Wallabies had set piece issues, having several lineouts pilfered and never really asserting their dominance a the scrum, while referee Matt Carley was quick to blow for infringements.

It’s always debatable decisions made around who’s dominant and who’s not,” Rennie said. “We’ll liaise directly with Matt around this sort of stuff. From a lineout point of view they were able to steal a couple. I think we need to play with a bit more tempo get there, get it in.”

Captain Michael Hooper was a little more upbeat than the coach sitting next to him.

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“Like Dave said we’re really pleased to get the win,” Hooper said. “We drew these games last year so it’s really pleasing for us to take a step forward.

“Argentina can be really dangerous and we came out of the blocks well. We let them in the game with ill discipline there and we didn’t execute our maul that great. We got put to the sword there a few times so there’s definitely some stuff to work on.”

Asked what pleased him, Hooper replied: “Our ability to move the ball around in the early part of the game. I think everyone’s pulling their weight really nicely.

“Obviously Samu getting us go forward and then some really smart options. We’re sticking to the script, mostly. I think we’re creating some belief around how we want to play and what Wallaby rugby looks like.

“The coaching staff’s been excellent giving us a really direct plan to go into the game that we can execute.

“Then getting the balance of reinforcing the good stuff and having a bit of edge around the stuff that we can get better at. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.

“We’ve had a couple of decent performances. We’ll enjoy this one without doubt, but there are no easy Test matches in the world anymore and we want to be proud of the performances that we put out.”

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