Robbie Deans is again putting up smokescreens.
The Wallabies coach shunned all blame for the 31-8 drubbing by the Springboks in Pretoria this morning to a horrific injury crisis and baffling substitution blunder.
The Wallabies played the final 10-miuntes of the heavy five-tries-to-one defeat at Loftus Versfeld with seven forwards and replacement halfback Brett Sheehan on the wing after losing six players to injury.
Deans was seething after a sideline official did an apparent back flip on Australia's confusing front-row changes.
That meant the Wallabies had used their allotted seven substitutions and were forced to play one man down after already losing three backs.
"Our manager inquired as to whether [hooker] Tatafu Polota Nau could be replaced and he was told by the fourth referee he could, so we then brought him off the ground. At that point, they determined that he couldn't [be replaced]," Deans said in attempting to explain the shambolic situation.
"Then when we attempted to return him to the field of play they said 'no he's off for injury'. That was a source of frustration. It didn't make it easy at the end."
The reality is the game was well gone by that point.
The Springboks were in control at half-time and scored straight after the break to lead 21-3.
They were dominant throughout in their best performance of the season.
Deans was, again, looking for the nearest escape route - no surprises given Quade Cooper's selfish attacks and the mounting pressure.
Now, with a depleted squad, Deans may need a victory to save his job in Argentina next week.
When the All Blacks thrashed Australia 22-0 at Eden Park earlier this year, Deans' gushing praise for his countrymen was embellished considering the amount of errors they made.
That night it could have been 50-zip. The Springboks were, similarly, lamenting at least three blown tries post match.
"We haven't beaten the Aussies for some time so I'm very proud of this young team," Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer said of breaking a five-match losing streak against the Wallabies.
"We're still not happy with the performance. There were three tries that were a centimetre away."
Rather than accept clear weaknesses the Wallabies displayed, Deans instead deflected all critical inquires on the injury disruptions.
"The circumstances at the end were bizarre. Halfbacks on the wing, down to 14 men, the amount of carnage we'd had in terms of injuries was unprecedented. It would take a superhuman effort to get up from there.
It was asking too much.
"South Africa played well, give them credit. They didn't allow us to get front foot ball. Playing against 14,13, and 12 makes it easier."
Deans managed to find one positive from the loss - the performance of Kurtley Beale in his first test start at first five-eighths, where he will again play next week.
"I thought Kurtley was outstanding," Deans said. "They didn't allow us to get front foot ball but he was able to create some momentum for us on occasions. He also kicked well."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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