Wallabies want defence to lay attacking foundation

Michael Cheika (Gallo Images)
Michael Cheika (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The Wallabies want to use their improved defence to score points as well as stop them as they prepare to face England at Twickenham on Saturday. 

Australia has improved in defence in the past two Tests especially but their attack has left a little to be desired, going tryless against Wales and leaving a host of chances on the table against Italy. 

The Wallabies finished with 20 turnovers for the match, many of those simple missed passes and knock-ons. 

Turning defensive wins into attacking points is a focus for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, with England presenting a far more complex equation on both sides of the ball than Wales or Italy have. 

“In the attacking side of the game we’ve definitely got improvements to make, but we’re still showing enough glimmers that we need to finish,” he told Rugby Australia's official website. 

“It’s more about taking the opportunities that we’re creating, because we are creating some opportunities. Maybe just the wrong choice here or there but nothing crazy. 

“The core of what we’ve been working on after the start of the season has been trying to get our defence very consistent, and that will be a huge part of the game next week. 

“They’ve got points in them if we give them the room to take points, so we’ve got to work really hard, get up there and get physical and get into it.” 

If they can do that, Samu Kerevi’s powerful running will be a key part of their success, so good he is at making ground in a tackle. 

Kerevi has slipped easily back into Test rugby after a four-month injury layoff and Sunday morning’s win over Italy was another impressive performance from the 25-year-old. 

The centre finished with 100 run metres off 14 carries, and a casual nine beaten defenders laid in his wake. 

He was guilty of some handling errors in attack, though he was not alone in those mistakes, and more than made up for that with his potency across the board. 

Kerevi’s defence has been as solid as any part of his game since his return and it’s off that platform that he, and the rest of the Wallabies, want to be able to mount their attack. 

“I always back myself to try and beat that first defender and hopefully if I am, I'm doing the right things for the team,” he said. 

“My performance comes on the back of the team's performance and for us it's momentum through defence and I felt like when we defended really well it transitions to attack. 

“We've just got the confidence of going up, going up, so for me hopefully we start the game well in defence or in attack next week and England's going to be another challenge.” 

Kerevi said patience was paying off for the Wallabies in defence, after their gritty outing against Italy. 

“For ourselves, it's just staying in that moment longer in defensive periods,” he added. 

“You really believe in the structure of defence. Greysy's (defence coach Nathan Grey) has worked really hard for us, worked hard on the defensive side and it's pretty aggressive so for us it's having that confidence and getting momentum from that. 

“We just trust the whole system.”

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