Rugby Championship News

Connolly concerned at early deficit




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Australia coach John Connolly expressed his concern at his team being 17 points adrift early in a Test match for the second time this year, saying his team must cut out their lapses in concentration.

Writing in his column for Rugby Heaven Connolly warned his team that they will not get away with conceding so many points so early in the Rugby World Cup matches.

Australia also clawed their way back from 0-17 down to win against Wales in June, and both that Wales team and Saturday’s South Africa team was largely second-string.

“It was a worry that, for the second time this year in Sydney, we found ourselves down 17-0 in the first half – the last time being against Wales, another supposedly B-grade outfit,” wrote Connolly.

“In rugby, you want to learn from your mistakes – and that is twice now that we have found ourselves chasing points at Telstra Stadium.

“We can’t afford any more lapses like that against the All Blacks in Auckland in two weeks, and then later at the World Cup. There’s no way we will be able to get out of giving away two easy tries like the ones we did last night.”

On the plus side, Connolly was proud of the way his much-maligned scrum held up in the face of a big pack that had openly admitted to targetting the Wallaby eight before the game.

“On the positive side, I was happy with our scrum against such an experienced pack; also our line-out against one that had five jumpers,” he said, and then went on to outline a worrying injury list.

“We will again face some challenges on the manpower front. From last night, Adam Freier has come away with a groin injury, while Wycliff Palu – who did not play last night due to his shoulder injury – will not be available.

“Add the suspension of Lote Tuqiri and we could again be facing a test of our depth.

“The good news is that Stephen Moore will be available after missing last night due to his sternum injury from the first All Blacks clash.”

Finally, Connolly paid a quick tribute to George Gregan and Stephen Larkham, saying the win was all about them.

“It was all about George Gregan and Stephen Larkham last night. OK,it was not a terrific win – but we will take it, knowing that for George and Stevie, it was the farewell they deserved in their last Test match in Australia,” he continued.

“We knew we would be up for a challenge last night, not just from a physical Springboks side but the load of emotion over George and Stevie. Saying that, it was critical we came away with the win.”
365 Digital

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