Wallabies aim to break try drought in Brisbane

JIM MORTON
Last updated 17:40 17/10/2012
Robbie Deans
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
NEW APPROACH: The injury-ravaged Wallabies will take a riskier and more innovative approach into their Bledisloe Cup match in Brisbane.

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The injury-ravaged Wallabies will attempt to avoid a Bledisloe Cup series whitewash against the All Blacks on Saturday while enduring their leanest try-scoring season of the professional era.

The second-ranked Wallabies have scored just 12 tries in 10 Tests this year, an average of 1.2 a game, compared to the all-conquering All Blacks' 33 tries in nine Tests at an average of 3.67 a match.

Overall, Wallabies outfits have averaged 3.17 tries a Test since the game went professional in 1996 and the only other year they have scored less than two a match was also under Deans in 2009.

Not since 1979, when tries were only worth one more point than a penalty or drop goal and when the Wallabies crossed the stripe just  five times in five Tests, has the national team struggled so badly  to score tries.

Classy utility Adam Ashley-Cooper, Australia's most experienced  back, puts the try-scoring troubles down to ever-improving defence  in international rugby but injured flanker David Pocock admits the  lean spell is a concern both for the Wallabies and the game of  rugby as a spectacle.

''It's a competitive football market in Australia,'' Pocock told AAP.

''Whilst in other countries, they love scrums and lineout battles, people in Australia want to see tries.

''But first and foremost, people want to see sides winning, so you can't look to play exciting rugby at the expense of winning.

''Winning has to be the primary focus.''

Pocock said the Wallabies' inability to convert pressure into tries had been the difference against the All Blacks in 2012.''It's all about taking opportunities,'' he said.

''The past four or five games against the All Blacks, there's only been a try in it.''

Statistics supported Pocock's assertion, with New Zealand  averaging 1.5 tries a Test against Australia this year, compared to  the Wallabies' one in two matches versus the world champions.

Ashley-Cooper said as the game evolved, defences were becoming stronger.

''Defence is a real key, especially to Test match footy,'' the  72-Test veteran told AAP.

''Teams are putting so much focus on defence and applying pressure in defence and turning balls over.

''If you look at the tries being scored in the Test arena, a lot of them are coming off turnovers from good defence.

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''That's how good teams are breaking it down these days.

''Maybe a reason why we're not scoring many tries this year is  because we're not turning over enough football or applying enough  pressure.''

Deans has had to use 38 different players in 2012 and Ashley-Cooper had no doubt a lack of combinations was also hindering the Wallabies.

''There's no doubting that teams perform well when they can build on combinations,'' he said.

''You look at the good centres combinations around the world like Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith and why they're so good is because they've spent so much time together.

''They're the perfect example of how a team can really work around a combination.

''For us, yes we've had a lot of injuries which have disrupted the combinations and the cohesion around the midfield or certain  playing areas.''But that's part of the game and it's something you need to work on.''

- AAP

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