Wallabies urged to improve performance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies urged to improve performance

By Jim Morton 30/06/2008 05:49:13 PM Comments (0)

The spluttering Wallabies have been warned they'll be cannon fodder for the All Blacks and Springboks if they don't make a marked improvement for the Tri-Nations.

Seasoned Australian front-rower Al Baxter pulled no punches on Monday when he assessed the Wallabies' form after two unconvincing Test wins over Ireland and France.

The last-start 34-13 victory over Les Bleus was a step in the right direction after escaping 18-12 in the season-opener against Ireland but Baxter indicated the Wallabies were far from satisfied.

Australia's most-capped prop even admitted the home side would be "punished" by the second-string French if they don't click at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Baxter said new combinations and changes in style were taking time to gel under coach Robbie Deans with just one Test left before their Tri-Nations campaign kicks off.

"This is where the third Test (combinations) should hopefully come together a bit nicer," the 53-Test tight-head said.

"Both South Africa and New Zealand have shown they are playing very well at the moment and if we play like that against those guys we'll get punished.

"We'll certainly have to lift from there and I think if we play like that again in this second Test we'll be punished for it because these French guys will take a lot of experience out of that (last) game and will play a lot better as well."

Deans will name his side for the second Test on Tuesday with winger Lote Tuqiri (knee) and No.8 Wycliff Palu (shoulder) still in doubt of overcoming injuries.

Stephen Hoiles appears the logical replacement if Palu, who was absent from Monday's training session at Ballymore, is ruled out while Digby Ioane is challenging Adam Ashley-Cooper for a starting berth if Tuqiri is sidelined.

Tuqiri took part in light duties with James Horwill and Luke Burgess who copped some poundings but aren't in doubt.

Although Saturday's scoreline was emphatic and they scored four tries to one at ANZ Stadium, Baxter said the Wallabies fell into the trap of not setting their platform up front early against France.

They attacked out wide, taking the "fool's gold" on offer from the compressed French defence which then easily herded the Wallabies backs over the sideline.

Deans' men learned their lesson in the second half, scoring three tries shortly after the break by running straight and playing direct.

Baxter, who came off the bench in Australia's upset quarter-final loss to England at the World Cup in October, said the devastating experience hit home the importance of imposing their own game on rivals.

"That's one of the things that Robbie is very good at, saying we have to make them (struggle) and not the other way round," he said.

Baxter said the 12-10 loss in Marseille had not been dissected by the Wallabies but lessons had been learned.

"I think we let (England) play their game," he said. "We didn't play to our strengths and let them play to their strengths.

"They played well, they kicked to the corners and kept us pinned down and we didn't do the things that we needed to do in order not to be pinned down.

"Also there was a great feeling among the team. We'd played well in the pool matches, I shouldn't really speak about it because it was a long time ago, but we felt we could do much better than we did.

"We had a poor game and they as a team had a good team, and unfortunately it was the (quarter-final) and not in the pool."

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