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Australia 'in the groove' to upset SA

Thu, 26 Sep 2013 15:10
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Wallabies looking for a strong finish
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Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie believes he has found the blueprint to turn around a 26-point hammering at the hands of the Springboks.

South Africa host Australia in a crucial Rugby Championship encounter at Newlands on Saturday, and the Aussie will be looking to avenge the 12-38 loss their suffered at the hands of the Boks when the sides met in Brisbane three weeks ago.

Speaking at a media briefing in the shadow of the imposing table mountain on Thursday, McKenzie made no secret of the fact that he feels they have some good ideas about how to upset the Bok rhythm.

The Wallaby mentor also spoke of the ability of his "physically imposing" backline to put some pressure on the Boks.

"We feel like we are right in the groove for a good performance," McKenzie said, adding that his team's build-up this week has gone very smoothly.

He admitted that physicality, of which the Boks have bucketloads, will always be a big factor.

"It is a contact sport and that side of the game is always there," McKenzie told the media scrum, adding: "You got to be able to impose yourself.

"The Springboks are good at imposing themselves on their opponents - we understand that.

"You have to make sure you are good enough on the day and we are looking forward to that."

Another aspect of the game the Wallabies fell short in last time was the scrums and the Aussie mentor said it will be "a big part of the game" again.

"Sorting that [the scrums] out, and what quality of ball you get from that, is an important part of the game. We will continue to work on that."

He was adamant that the Wallabies do have the forwards to match and beat the Bok bruisers, but added they were disappointed with their showing against the Boks in Brisbane.

"We didn't get close to how we wanted to play in the forwards and the backs," McKenzie said, adding: "There is a chance for us to do it much better in this game, so we are looking forward to it."

With all the talk of South Africa needing a four-try bonus-point win to stay in touch with the pace-setting New Zealanders in the competition, McKenzie felt the Boks could be ripe for the plucking.

"All we have read about is how much the Springboks are going to beat us by, we have taken note of that and we are looking forward to the opportunity."

Speaking of the changes to his backline - the result of injuries to Nick Cummins and Jesse Mogg, as well as the acing of James O'Connor after his booze binge - the coach felt he has the players to match the Boks.

"What we have ended up with was a fairly physically imposing backline," he said, adding: "We've got some size there and we'll be able to pit some pressure on the Boks backline.

"They [South Africa] do what they do well. It is up to teams playing against them to try and change their rhythm and make them to play outside [the game plan] that they prefer.

"We had ideas about that, [but] we did get close last time [the loss in Brisbane].

"We still have ideas about how we might do that. The challenge is for us to make that happen.

"We are looking forward to this Test match and we are looking forward to going out there and trying to knock them out of their rhythm."

Asked about his team's inability to last the distance in Brisbane, McKenzie said he was looking to experienced players like Will Genia and Benn Robinson to come off the bench and do the job.

"If you look at the bench, the experience we can bring off the bench, guys like Genia and Robinson in the second half - we are looking for a stronger finish, there is no question.

"The last time we played the Boks we were down 12-19 at the 60-minute mark and we dropped the ball in the attacking quarter. If we scored there it would have been 19-all with 20 to go.

"Every game we've had moments where we needed to be stronger, particularly towards the finish of the game, so the fact that we can bring on some of our most experience players in that last part of the game is significant.

"We are looking for a stronger finish.

"Every time we [Australia] have won over here [in South Africa] it has mostly been at the death, 78th minute, 80th, 82nd minute. You got to be there at the death, you got to give yourself a chance.

"We got some very strong and very experienced players coming in who will be able to lift the performance, rather than have the performance fall away.

"We recognise how hard it is to win in South Africa.

"By putting experienced players on the bench it gives us the best way to finish the game.

"It is not about how you start, it is how you finish it."

By Jan de Koning

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