Wallabies forwards want to up the ante

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

They eked some frustration out of the All Blacks in Sydney, but the Wallabies forward pack knows there’s plenty of room to improve this weekend.

Defence was an obvious issue for Australia, but in the set piece they matched the All Blacks, with the scrum in particular causing some annoyances for the visitors, with Owen Franks in repeated conversations with Wayne Barnes over weight-bearing.

Scrum coach Mario Ledesma said there was no big secret to the Wallabies’ competitiveness in the scrum, but they couldn’t rely on one competitive performance to get them through.

“We built good pressure and everybody was doing their job mainly. It's not rocket science, but I think the boys did a good job. But again, we have to back that up this week,” he told RUGBY.com.au.

Where the Wallabies’ backline welcomed in new faces, the forwards have been relatively solid this season, with starting combinations reshuffled but the core group remaining the same.

“When they know each other better, they react better to different stuff,” Ledesma said.

“If you get that relationship between each other it's always better but I think the guys coming from the bench did a good job too and at one point, there was scotty and keps and then robbo and keps. Any combination's been working alright.

Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore, who has played out a tight battle with Tatafu Polota-Nau this season, said there was a growing bond in the side.

“Guys are starting to understand their role in the game and the importance of the set piece and how critical it is in Test footy,” he said.

“We've got a number of players who haven't played a lot of Test rugby so they're learning about that and how  important that is.”

Moore said there was still improvement needed in the scrum ahead of the Dunedin clash

“I think generally around the engagement, without talking too much tactics, we'd like to get a bit more out of that part of the game,” he said.

“I thought our back five for most part of the game were really solid, they were scrumming well.”

One potential upside that has gone under the radar from the record-breaking Test, is the Wallabies penalty count, which matched the All Blacks, a far cry from the side that was the most yellow-carded in the 2016 Rugby Championshhip.

Lock Adam Coleman said the side was looking to improve its physicality but it wasn’t about niggle.

“I think at the ruck area, we lacked a little bit of leg drive and getting past the ball there,” he said.

“We'll look to really lift the physicality on that side of things at the ruck time and with our carries.

“I think we throughout our set piece we were actually fairly okay but around the field, we really need to make sure we're really marking our opposite number and making sure that we get on top of those things.”

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks in Dunedin this weekend, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS.