The wasteful Wallabies have stressed the necessity to learn from their mistakes and take their chances against a ruthless New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium.
Australia’s most-capped prop Al Baxter said his team needed to take a leaf out of the book of the All Blacks and execute with clinical finishing efficiency to enjoy a Tri-Nations title upset on Saturday night.
Although the Wallabies were humiliated 53-8 in Johannesburg in their last start, Baxter insisted it would have been a completely different contest if two early try-scoring opportunities were taken.
In the opening two minutes of the match Matt Giteau wasted a big overlap by throwing a poorly-directed cut-out pass on the Springbok line.
Then, behind 10-3 in the 20th minute, Peter Hynes ruined some wonderful lead-up work by himself and Giteau by throwing a tardy last pass which Lote Tuqiri dropped with the line open.
“We had two chances early in the game and if we had scored it would have made it perhaps 14-10 to us and it would have been an entirely a different game,” he said.
“If you do take your chances it does turn things around entirely, and that’s a big thing we had to recognise out of that game – although we did play poorly, it wasn’t from a want of opportunity.”
Baxter said the costly misses also compounded on the Wallabies’ mental state.
“Definitely and it also helped (South Africa),” he said.
“When you see an opposition team make a few mistakes and bomb a few tries you think ‘get out of jail free card’.
“That unfortunately lifts them. It does hurt when you think there’s five or seven points gone begging.”
Better finishing has been among a string of areas the Wallabies have gone to school on in Brisbane this week.
Baxter and Giteau both today said the eight-try hiding had been put out of their heads and the side’s self-belief remained strong.
Australia boast a superior 9-4 record over NZ in trans-Tasman Tests on Australian soil dating back the past 10 years which also adds to the confidence.
Baxter expected the defensive problems shown on the high veldt would be easily fixed, with the Wallabies reacting badly to the rapidly-rising scoreline by looking for one-off big hits and individual plays which the Springboks exploited.
“That was obviously pretty bad from us and I guess just when your heads are down and you’re chasing your tail you make some silly decisions sometimes,” he said.
“I think we started playing as individuals and not like a team and that’s where we’ve done well in the past. When we’ve defended as a team we’ve kept a lot of tries out.”