Turnover ball, poor kicking prove costly against New Zealand: Gilmore

Oceanic U20s Championship
by Sam Phillips

Costly errors and an inability to take advantage of a "14 point wind" proved critical in the Junior Wallabies' loss to New Zealand U20s, according to coach Jason Gilmore.

The Australians took a 24-7 deficit into the half time break but with a blustery southerly at the backs of the Kiwis in the first term, Gilmore preached patience at the break.

His playmakers, however, were unable to play the territory game in the second term, as New Zealand took complete control in the third quarter of the match with a one-two punch of tries.

"I didn't think we used the wind well enough in that second half to actually gain some territory," Gilmore said.

"We just felt with that breeze - it was probably worth 14 points.Lawson Creighton and the Australians lost the kicking battle. Photo: Sportography"We knew if we used it well we could get back into it."

While Australia were largely outpointed in the kicking duel, turnover ball also led to several key opportunities for New Zealand..

"I thought we showed a lot grit towards the back end of the second half to stay in the contest but key learning today is that you can't turn that much ball over against quality opposition," Gilmore said.

"There was too much drop ball through that contact point and you can't build any pressure when you're doing that."

The combination of poor kicking and sloppy ball handling was compounded by a predictable attack, with flyhalf Lawson Creighton rarely supported by a runner inside of him to help create doubt in the defensive line.

"We just need to be a little bit smarter with our attack, just changing that a little bit more," Gilmore said.

"That put pressure on our D and we got a little bit loose around the ruck, which gave them some easy points in the back end of that first half.

"You have to be clever against top opposition these days.

"If you're not challenging them by changing direction with short passes it's a pretty easy read, defensively, to get that line speed up and get that contact."

Gilmore is expected to announce his World U20s Championship squad tomorrow, with the players chosen to reconvene in a fortnight in preparation for the tournament.

"Tonight was the one and that's the acid test you want before you head to the next camp," he said.

"The boys will take a learning out of that so it's been good."