Wallabies look to tighten defence

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies need to work on protecting their own line, after conceding 27 second-half points against Japan, coach Michael Cheika says.

While Australia racked up 63 points in Yokohama, on what Cheika deemed a generally positive night, they eventually conceded 30, the highest Japanese total against the Wallabies.

Close-range tries were Cheika’s biggest concern, and with the Wallabies on the wrong end of a 17-9 penalty count, Japan were able to keep their tally ticking over with their shots at goal.

“We gave away three tries which was probably one too many in the overall picture of this game,” Cheika said after the match.

“That wouldn't be at the forefront of my mind right now but obviously it's to be noted that we need to tighten, not the defence (in general) but more the goal line defence in particular - that's where we struggled.

“In the outfield we were very good but in the goal line I felt we took our eye off the ball and in a defensive maul where we gave away a try.”

Amanaki Mafi scored a late try for Japan. Photo: Getty ImagesWallabies lock Adam Coleman said the side wasn’t happy with letting in the tries, despite the big win.

“We'll look at that pretty hard on the Monday and see what areas we can tighten up there,” he said.

“It's not good enough letting 30 points in, we might've scored 60 but it's a bit disappointing that we did let in 30 points.”

Japan tested Australia in the breakdown as well on Saturday night, captain Michael Hooper lamenting the turnovers the Wallabies conceded in the game, withJapan winning eight turnovers to Australia's five.

“It was hard, physical and fast,” he said.

“The Japanese players were very good at the breakdown.

“They really tested us there and we turned over the ball too many times.

“Their ability to play for 80 minutes was really impressive and they really dominated that back 20 minutes of the game and put us under a lot of pressure.

The breakdown is an area in which the Wallabies will be tested again when they hit Cardiff in the UK chapter of their Spring Tour, with forward play the deciding factor of so many games in the north.