Insane inconsistencies continue to haunt Wallabies

SYDNEY: Australia had the perfect opportunity to make a big statement in their final Rugby Championship match on Saturday by becoming the first team to beat New Zealand at Eden Park since 1994.

Ameliorating last week’s controversial 39-37 loss to neighbors Melbourne would not have been enough to win the championship, but it would have given them something solid to build on in the run-up to next year’s World Cup.

Their ambitions only lasted a few minutes before being firmly buried under yellow cards, penalties, handling errors and missed tackles as the All Blacks went 40-14 victories.

“We’ve been shadowed in all areas and this is the result,” coach Dave Rennie told reporters in Auckland.

“We didn’t have the ball at the end. We lost collisions. We fell far too many duels. We flipped too many balls.

“It’s not good enough as a group.”

A week after what was probably the best performance of his three-year tenure, Rennie was grim again as his team slumped to a sixth loss in nine games this season.

“It probably sums us up a bit,” he added. “We know we have to do our best to win and if you don’t play against a good side like New Zealand you hurt yourself.”

Though his winning record has fallen below 40 per cent, Rennie’s job looks secure until next year’s World Championships, but perhaps only because expectations are so low after seven years of underperformance.

There’s no denying, however, that the prospects of the Wallabies winning a third World Cup in France next year remain as slim as they were when he took office.

Rennie described Australia’s performance in the rugby championship as “a mixed bag”, with victories over world champions South Africa and Argentina and the performance in losing to the All Blacks in Melbourne being highlights.

Australia’s next chance to record back-to-back wins for the first time this season comes on the season-ending tour of Europe, where they take on back-to-back weeks Scotland, France, Italy, Ireland and Wales.

“It’s a tough road, but we have to play a lot of footy with a lot of young guys,” said Rennie.

“The more they play, the better the World Cup year will be.”