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Sunday August 18, 2013 MYT 9:37:01 AM
Sunday August 18, 2013 MYT 9:38:03 AM
by nick mulvenney
Australian Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie (L) talks with team captain James Horwill before the start of the Bledisloe Cup rugby test match against the New Zealand All Blacks at Stadium Australia in Sydney August 17, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray
SYDNEY (Reuters) - It was back to the drawing board for Ewen McKenzie on Sunday after his reign as Australia coach opened with a 47-29 defeat to the All Blacks that left little room for solace.
It does not get any easier for the Wallabies with a return test against the world champions in Wellington next weekend and South Africa, who humbled Argentina 73-13 in Saturday's second match, up after that in Brisbane in early September.
"Everytime you lose a game it's disappointing," McKenzie told reporters after the match.
"We were level pegging there for some time in the game, but you have to respect possession.
"We had possession there at times, we did some good things, we made a bunch of line breaks, but then we didn't treasure the ball enough and they won a lot of points on counterattack.
"We didn't control the ball and they were able to play and do some of the things they're good at and you pay a price for that.
"In amongst it there was some bits and pieces that we liked. There was some stuff that we can improve. We had some good width in our game and some of the interplay we worked on wasn't bad, but we will be tightening a fair bit of stuff up."
Despite McKenzie's protestations that there were positives to grasp, the most disappointing thing about Saturday's performance was that, in attack, Australia looked very much like the toothless sides from the worst days of the Robbie Deans era.
Wallabies fans demand attacking endeavour from their side and McKenzie had promised they would play the "Australian way" but for all their width, their attack lacked any real penetration.
They scored two tries to New Zealand's six but Will Genia's was a breakaway from an attacking All Blacks lineout and when James O'Connor crossed in the final minute, the match was long over as a contest.
Of the much-heralded back three, O'Connor went missing in defence for two of the All Blacks scores, fullback Jesse Mogg looked out of his depth in his second test and potent winger Israel Folau barely got a touch of the ball.
Matt Toomua had a solid start to his test career at flyhalf but Quade Cooper, kept on the bench as an impact player, already knew he would be on the losing side when he replaced him with 18 minutes left on the clock.
'Mr Dependable' Adam Ashley-Cooper was outstanding in midfield but a huge early break up the middle, with the match poised at just 7-6 to the visitors, petered out when he could not find any support.
Openside flanker Michael Hooper was another standout for the Wallabies but the brutal fact is that after the British and Irish Lions defeat last month, Australia's defence has now shipped 88 points in their last two tests.
"They reaped the reward for the pressure they put on us but next week's a different game," McKenzie said.
"You go back to the drawing board, you can't be happy with the scoreline, there's stuff, there's little processes that we can tighten up.
"I've been around the rugby scene a long time and you'll see 70 point turnarounds in seven days.
"We're not going to sit here and get bogged down and spin our wheels, we'll concentrate on the positives and tidy up some of the things we need to."
(Editing by Ian Ransom)
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