Numerous aspects of Australia ’s play must improve if they’re to avoid a third straight loss against New Zealand on Sunday, but Tate McDermott has highlighted defence as a particular cause for concern.
The Wallabies pick up their Rugby Championship in Perth with no chance of clinching this year’s Bledisloe Cup, having suffered back-to-back defeats at Auckland’s Eden Park in August.
The second of those losses ended 57-22 in favour of the All Blacks, representing the highest points total New Zealand have racked up against their trans-Tasman rivals.
And scrum-half McDermott picked out defence and work in possession as two factors the Wallabies must change in order to have a chance at scoring their first win of the Rugby Championship.
“We’ve got to hold the ball, we’ve got to respect the ball and then on the flip side it’s about our defence,” told reporters from the team’s base in Perth.
“It was nowhere near good enough, especially in that second test, when we conceded 57 points.
“To call ourselves a tier-one nation and do that is really quite embarrassing.
“That’s one area that we’ve really got to lift. Scramble defence, but also our set-piece defence as well.”
Queensland Reds star McDermott, 22, was one of Australia’s two try-scorers when the teams last met on August 14, crossing over just before the Wallabies went in at half-time trailing by six.
But that lead was stretched beyond recognition as New Zealand dominated the second period 36-7, turning the screw as they so often do following the restart.
It was clearly the All Blacks’ day when the Eden Park hosts managed to outscore their guests even during Ardie Savea’s sin bin early in the second half, proof Australia also have worries in attack.
New Zealand also piled at least 57 points on Fiji in successive matches when they met twice in July, but Australia would surely prefer to be held in a higher regard than the Pacific Island nation.
Hopes were high for a more competitive Bledisloe series after the Wallabies surged late to lose by only eight points in their first clash this year, but Ian Foster’s side found another gear in the rematch.
Dave Rennie’s men will be inspired knowing they triumphed over the All Blacks when they last hosted their rivals in November, and McDermott said preparations for the third clash have been positive.
“I don’t actually think we need that extra motivation,” he added.
“The extended two weeks that we spent over here was brilliant because we were able to connect with the community over here.
“If there’s no edge leading into a game against New Zealand then we’re kidding ourselves.
“I think from that point of view, we always have an edge. Whether there will be a little bit more motivation, I’m not sure.
“The boys are definitely up for it if today’s training session is anything to go off.”
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