Wallabies refuse to admit defeat
August 24, 2009
Wallabies skipper George Smith attempts to rally his side during their defeat to New Zealand in Sydney © Getty Images
Ben Alexander Dan Carter Robbie Deans Rocky Elsom Will Genia Matt Giteau Sir Graham Henry Richie McCaw Ma'a Nonu
Australia are refusing to concede defeat in this year's Tri-Nations despite suffering their third straight defeat in the battle for southern hemisphere supremacy.
Robbie Deans' side are languishing at the bottom of the Tri-Nations table having lost once to leaders South Africa and suffered two defeats at the hands of Tasman rivals New Zealand - the latest of which came in agonising fashion in Sydney last weekend.
But the Wallabies are not willing to throw in the towel ahead of back-to-back clashes with the Springboks that will go a long way to deciding this year's title. The Australians have shown an ability to play attractive rugby that results in points at times over the first three Tests, but the problems have come by not seeing out the full 80 minutes.
Scrum-half Will Genia might be new to Test rugby, but has no problem seeing what has been going wrong.
"The problem so far has been not putting in a consistent 80-minute performance, so that's what we are concentrating on," he said. "We tend to have lulls and lapses, and good sides like New Zealand and South Africa take advantage of that and punish you. We are struggling a bit with discipline.
"We are tending to give away too many penalties and when you play sides like South Africa, that will always be three points. When we are on song we look good. We build pressure and can score tries and points, but it comes back to being consistent right through the game."
Prop Ben Alexander certainly does not see Saturday's Test as having no meaning and is hoping a win and a bonus point could put the Wallabies right back in contention for this year's crown.
"It's not a dead rubber at all," he said. "If we win the last three and some other results go our way, with the bonus points, we are still a chance to take the Tri-Nations title even though we've put ourselves in a tough position to do so. We've still got the Mandela Cup to win and if we win our next two we still win that back.
"There's still so much riding on this game. Every time you turn up for Australia it's a massive game. There's no such thing as a dead rubber."
The Wallabies will wait until training this week to see how injuries to Rocky Elsom (ankle), Nathan Sharpe (shoulder) and Berrick Barnes (neck) are, but Stephen Moore is confident he will be right despite heavy bleeding from a gash to his head after an early clash with team-mate Benn Robinson.
"The injury is good and mine is the least of our concerns," Moore said. "I just couldn't stop the bleeding during the game and that was the frustrating thing. It's stitched up and has stopped bleeding finally now. There is some stuff going on in there with cartilage, but that's part and parcel of the game.
"The bleeding was the frustrating thing and the referee had to keep sending me to the blood bin. Fingers crossed it will heal during the week and I won't have an issue with it, but you can never tell."
Moore is confident the Wallabies can put in a good performance against the Springboks, but knows it will take a disciplined effort to ensure the boot of Morne Steyn cannot strike.
"There is little between the three teams at the moment, they are always great contests and this weekend will be no different," he said. "South Africa is the benchmark team at the moment in the world and it's another big challenge for us.
"At the moment they've got the most balanced team they've had for a quite a while with strength right across the board. It seems like everyone in their team has a specific role and they carry it out well. They don't make many mistakes and it doesn't give the opposition much access to the game. We can't give them any opportunities to kick penalties or field goals."
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales' lessons to learn in defeat by New Zealand are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards