Experienced halfback Nic White says Saturday night’s result felt like a “losing draw” and that the Wallabies simply must be better.
The Wallabies failed to convert a 15-6 lead midway through the second half against the Pumas into a night of celebration in the Hunter as inaccuracy, inexperience and ill-discipline allowed Nicolas Sanchez to nab a valuable draw.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie cut a frustrated figure when he faced the media following the draw.
Rennie lamented his side’s inability to close out the game and pointed to their lack of game smarts by failing to recognise the need to play territory.
It was the second time in five Tests where the Wallabies have had to settle for a draw under Rennie in 2020 following their 16-16 stalemate in Wellington in Bledisloe I.
White, one of the Wallabies’ most experienced players and someone who helped turn Exeter around from perennial underachievers into the most dominant side in Europe, said that feeling of frustration was shared by the playing group.
“Bugger aye,” the halfback bluntly said of the result. “Pretty disappointed.
“Every time there’s a draw someone comes away with it being a winning draw and another team a losing draw, and I certainly feel that we’re in that category – the latter.
“That game was there for us to close out and we’re pretty disappointed that we haven’t closed that out and learnt from Wellington, so pretty shattered.”
In his initial post-game synopsis Rennie said his side played as if they were “bored”.
White agreed, stating that the Wallabies played with the ball too much around the middle of the field instead of plugging the space in the backfield.
“Yeah definitely, I think we got to a position where it was 15-6 and it (the rain) was starting to come down and the wind was behind us and I just feel like we played a lot in the middle of the field.
“Probably just a better understanding that they’re the moments and sort of conditions where it’s probably better to play without the ball and I thought Argentina did that a little bit better than us, and we saw that they did it against the All Blacks last week and then they did it against us. They gave us a lot of ball and enough rope to strangle ourselves.
“They’re a very good side, very good defensively, very hard on the ball and that was a good chunk there that we needed to do the opposite, we needed to give them the ball, make them exit, make them play and make them chase the game and let them be a bit looser, and we got a bit loose and we invited them with a bit of ill-discipline and a few errors.
“It’s going to be hard reviewing and moments like we these we’ve got to learn and we can’t make these mistakes.”
The result meant that not only did the Wallabies fail to build on the momentum coming out of their stunning 24-22 win over the All Blacks a fortnight ago, but it also hurt their chances of claiming some prized silverware.
A win would have put them within 80 minutes of lifting the tournament trophy for the first time since 2015, when the Wallabies won The Rugby Championship by claiming the opening Bledisloe match in Sydney.
White said that while you couldn’t question the side’s effort, they couldn’t use youth as an excuse and they had to own the result.
“If we won here tonight we just had to go into that last game and win and now we’ve got to sit back, have a look and then who knows,” he said.
“Also, I thought we did a really good job in showing a bit of pride in the jersey; certainly bloody physical and we matched it. You can’t fault the work-rate and intent. It’s all there. We’ve just got to marry that up with a bit of execution, a bit of accuracy and play a bit smatter. We are a young side, but we can’t be going day-in, day-out, week-in, week-out saying we’ve spoken about this, we need to start owning it and learning quick.”
The Wallabies will have 14 days to stew on the result before their final Test of the year against the Pumas at Bankwest Stadium on December 5.
'WE GOT BORED': Rennie rues the one that got away
'LET THE COUNTRY DOWN': Hodge heartbreak as Wallabies draw with Pumas in Newcastle