'Dumb' Wallabies get roasted
REACTION: Frustrated Wallabies coach Dave Rennie blasted his team’s “dumb errors” after another erratic and ill-disciplined performance against Argentina left Australia with just one win from six this year and the Tri-Nations wooden spoon.
They rallied from 6-13 down at the break in pouring rain at Sydney on Saturday to salvage a 16-all draw, but sloppy ball handling and poor execution again blighted their game.
It followed a 15-all stalemate against the Pumas a fortnight ago, when they threw away a 15-6 advantage.
“We’re a work in progress. We’re good men who have worked hard and come together well, but, as I’ve said, we need to see that reflected in performance,” said Rennie.
“There’s no lack of heart and no lack of effort, but we’ve got to be way more clinical.
“Discipline was disappointing and we made some dumb errors.”
Ill-discipline has been a recurring problem with too many silly penalties handed to the opposition.
On Saturday, skipper Michael Hooper was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle in the first half, with the Pumas scoring 10 of their points while he was off the field.
Then Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was red-carded with 20 minutes left for dangerous play.
Despite being down to 14 men, the Wallabies managed to claw their way back into the game and could have won had Reece Hodge converted a late penalty.
It was the third time this year he has missed long-range kicks to clinch games, and the stalemate didn’t go down well with the Australian media.
The broadsheet publication The Australian said it sent the team “almost back to where it started from” while the Sydney Morning Herald bemoaned a “depressing and sour” end to the year.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph was even more brutal.
“The Wallabies have been in camp together for months now but were so out of sorts they looked like they were meeting on a Tinder date for the first time,” it blasted.
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New Zealander Rennie was recruited after Michael Cheika – now working with Argentina – was axed after a poor showing at the World Cup last year and his reign began on a promising note with an unexpected 16-16 draw against the All Blacks in Wellington in October.
The Wallabies then got hammered twice by their trans-Tasman rivals before upsetting Ian Foster’s men 24-22 in Brisbane.
But two successive draws against Argentina have again piled on the pressure.
“We won one out of six, if you look at it from that perspective,” Rennie said.
“It’s disappointing, but I guess we’ve got an understanding of where we’re at.”
In contrast, Argentina have done better than expected despite a tumultuous tour.
They endured COVID-19 cases, lockdowns and quarantine restrictions, criticism over a perceived lack of respect for the late Diego Maradona and a racist tweet scandal last week.
Throughout they showed remarkable resilience, earning their first win against New Zealand in 35 years on the back of a fierce defence.
They lost the return match against the All Blacks but drew twice with Australia to finish second in the Tri-Nations on points difference.
“These guys just don’t stop surprising us,” Ledesma said of his squad, many of whom have been on the road for four months.
“They never put their head down, they’re never complaining, they’re not whingeing, they are always really positive. They love each other.
“It’s been an incredible journey, the whole year,” he added. “I’m super proud and happy for the boys.”