Wallabies laser focused on getting it right
EXECUTION, detail and process. It sounds like a mind-numbing corporate meeting but those are the key terms for the Wallabies to turn a "frustrating" second Test performance into a memorable third Test victory over Ireland.
So said the Wallabies, anyway, as they digested the disappointment of their loss to the Irish at AAMI Park and discussed the ways to bounce back in Sydney.
How much will have to change for the third Test? Not much, according to senior players Scott Sio and Bernard Foley, who said the tactics for the match were fine but the execution of nearly all of them was off just enough to bring down the whole performance.
Up against a very clinical Ireland team, the Wallabies were the exact opposite and paid the price. Their discipline was poor, the aggressive defence of a week before couldn't find its mark and Ireland secured their breakdown superbly, negating David Pocock.
Captain Michael Hooper said post-match the errant kicking game that saw Israel Folau fail to get a clear contest at any high balls summed up the night. Off target and ineffective.
"I don't think we have to change much, we just have to be better in our execution and go out and do it better on the night," Foley said.
"I think everyone felt a bit frustrated in terms of getting into the game. Izzy is definitely a player we want involved in the game. We want him having more touches than anyone because we know how dangerous he can be.
"We all felt frustrated coming off that game through a lack of possession and a lack of territory and that's where we have of be better in our execution, because when you are a bit off it ends up you are fielding a lot of the pressure. We learned a lot."
Foley said he and Kurtley Beale had to make the high balls "genuinely contestable" for Folau in Sydney, and deal with the canny human-shield tactics Ireland used to disrupt Folau's approach to the landing zone.
"They probably did well in escorting our chasers through there, so we have to adjust that and see how better we can improve," Foley said.
"In all facets of the game, we have to find that small detail. It is not game changing, just small areas of detail we can fix and we will better for it."
The Wallabies' frustrations at not getting enough territory and possession were an interesting study compared to the positivity of their performance a week earlier in Brisbane.
The Aussies only had 37 per cent territory and 40 per cent possession for the whole match - but that was almost exactly the same as the week before, when they won.
In truth, it was an inability to get the ball off Ireland, keep it and score points which hurt (Ireland only gave up nine turnovers after 21 a week earlier) and the frazzled Wallabies compounded their problems by giving away penalties in their own half.
Jonny Sexton's four penalty goals ultimately proved the difference in a game where the hosts scored more tries.
The fact the Wallabies played so poorly but still only lost by five points, and could have won after the siren, was a "positive", said Foley.
"We have to just that little bit better at everything. It is not one big thing that is going to fix the game for us. They were a lot more clinical than us on the day and it showed on the scoreboard," Sio said.
"It is not a case of effort from our group, it is the little detail in our game that we need to fix. Those are the little moments in a game that really effect what happens.
"We can't be playing with 35 per cent possession. I was told territory and possession game is pretty keen at Test level. We need to treasure the ball a bit more and be better with our kicking, and just be more clinical around the park with everything we do."