Improvement ahead for Australia U20s

Brenden Hertell
by Brendan Hertel

While Michael Cheika and Eddie Jones set about preparing for the second Test match between Australia and England in Melbourne, their former Randwick coach Allan Gaffney is overseeing the Australian U20s' performance in Manchester.

The U20s had their first win of the World Championships on Saturday, against Italy, running in five tries to Italy’s one to claim a 38-10 win but Gaffney said there was more improvement to be done before they face England in their final pool match on Wednesday.

“We were very disappointed with the first half, I don’t think our energy was good enough. Full credit to Italy, they had a crack, but we weren’t good enough yesterday,” he said.

Australia went into the half-time break trailing 10-7, after crossing for just one try, in the 34th minute.

“We did score four tries in the second half, but we need to get a lot better at delivering our game plan. We’re going into a match against England on Wednesday who are in pretty good form.”

The team spent plenty of time going over video footage and identifying areas of their game to improve ahead of their clash with Italy and  the overarching theme of the team’s review was a need to improve their attack.

While the team did make some inroads, evidenced in their four-try second half performance, Gaffney still believes there are points being left on the field.

“I think parts of our match were good, in other parts we’re missing opportunities that we’re just not seeing. We’re looking into the breakdown too much and not identifying where the opportunities are," he said.

“We had a number of three-on-ones and four-on-ones that went begging, that is frustrating. The players do it at training, when they’re provided with direction as to what they’re going to do they’re fine, but they’re not making decisions on the field.”

With another short four-day turnaround before Australia takes on England on Wednesday, Gaffney is aware of the the challenge ahead of the team.

“It’s an enormous challenge, they’re a big side, they didn’t do particularly well in the six nations but then they have eight players who are playing in the Aviva Premiership. Mallinder, who will be playing flyhalf, has played eight or so games for Northampton this year. Overall they’re an experienced side.

“We just got to go out there and play, that’s what we’re not doing at the present time. We’re a bit reticent in what we do, we’re not playing the way Australian sides like to play.”

Australia will face England in their final pool game of the tournament on Thursday morning, kicking off at 4:45am AEST LIVE on FOXSPORTS 2 502.