Scrappy Wallabies and All Blacks target improvement
New Zealand and Australia are both targeting big improvements after an error-strewn opening to the Rugby Championship.
The world champion All Blacks edged out the Wallabies 27-19 at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium but the match was devoid of rhythm, with referee Alain Rolland whistling for 28 penalties and players on both sides fumbling the ball.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen blamed the mistakes on the short amount of time players had to prepare following the end of the Super 15 two weeks ago, and said he expects a more attractive return match at Eden Park next weekend.
“It’s probably not the most perfect game in the world but when you get two sides coming off the breaks we’ve had, playing at the intensity we’re playing, there’s going to be errors,” Hansen said.
“Both sides will be better for the experience and next week I think will be a real ripper of a game.”
Israel Dagg and Cory Jane accounted for the Wallabies on Saturday with a try apiece in the first half, and the lightning backs could each have scored another in the second, with Dagg forced into touch in the corner and Jane fumbling a pass from Sonny Bill Williams on the line.
Hansen expects those chances to stick next weekend.
“There were a couple of opportunities, Australia had a couple too, and the reason you’re not taking them is you’re a bit rusty,” Hansen said. “CJ wouldn’t drop too many offloads like he had from Sonny. It’s about playing together and having that time together.
“We came off a seven-day preparation and sometimes you need more time than that.”
Australia coach Robbie Deans conceded that his side, which conceded both tries out wide following quick passing from the scrum, needs to improve fast.
“To their credit they put us under pressure but it was really the unforced errors that put us in a difficult position,” Deans said. “We have to be better. That wouldn’t be too hard, I don’t think. We’ll definitely be better next week.
“Some of the errors out there just aren’t acceptable in any level of the game, now people will put that down to any number of things.”
Hansen expects Deans’ Wallabies to be fired up by the manner of the loss and to fight hard to end a run of 13 straight defeats to the All Blacks in Auckland.
“I think it will hurt them,” Hansen said. “You read all week how they’re going to do this and do that and I’m sure they’ll be disappointed they didn’t do this and didn’t do that.”