Scoring trends in the inaugural Rugby Championship indicate the Wallabies face an ominous task when confronting the All Blacks juggernaut in Saturday's Bledisloe Cup finale, but Robbie Deans vows his injury-hit side won't die wondering at the scene of the world champions last defeat.
Australia's Tri-Nations-securing triumph at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium last August is a rare good omen for the Wallabies as they try and avoid a trans-Tasman whitewash and Deans is promoting another encouraging aspect to the encounter - a determination to play positively rather than concentrate on damage limitation.
After watching his side record just seven tries during the expanded southern hemisphere tournament - the worst rate among the four nations after newcomers Argentina managed eight - Deans has promised his rearranged backline will be more proactive against an All Blacks side which racked up 18 five-pointers, including 11 during their road trip to La Plata and Soweto.
The Wallabies have struggled to score in multiples of five, or seven, since the opening Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney on August 18 where Nathan Sharpe was their only try-scorer before the All Blacks tightened their grip on the trophy.
The veteran lock's 38th-minute try was ultimately a damning indictment on the Wallabies offensive capabilities - it was the team's only cause for celebration before halftime in their six-match programme.
Australia were held scoreless a week later at Eden Park and only managed a brace of tries in home tests against South Africa and Argentina before battling to break defences in Pretoria and Rosario.
Deans desire to play with a greater degree of risk is admirable - and will hinge on playmaker Kurtley Beale given his most dangerous broken field runner Digby Ioane is ruled out with a knee injury.
A midfield of Pat McCabe and Ben Tapuai are unashamedly defence-orientated while Nick Cummins faces a tough initiation in his first Bledisloe, and second cap, on the wing.
The Wallabies also have a makeshift and safety-first fullback in New Zealander Mike Harris, although Adam Ashley-Cooper adds some thrust to the back three after recovering from concussion.
Ideally Deans would be able to utilise the creativity of Ioane, James O'Connor and even a recalcitrant Quade Cooper against an opponent blessed with multiple threats but he will press on with a new attacking philosophy regardless.
"At some point, to do well against them, you've got to take the initiative. You can't wait for it to land in your lap,'' Deans said as he revisited the two previous losses on 2012.
"'You've got to take the game to them and find a way to wrestle initiative and create some momentum ... you've got to engage these blokes, there's no shortcuts to beating them.''
The Wallabies conservative game plan has alienated their fans - and Cooper - and Deans admitted it was finally time to push the boundaries.
"There's an element of structure you need to bring to your game to get into the parts of the ground you want to be in but the game is also about risk and reward," Deans said, confirming the fresh approach.
Don't expect the Wallabies to mimic French flair of the 1980s and seek to run the ball from behind their line, but Deans and coaching assistant Nick Scrivener suggested a strong focus on tactical kicking would be pared back.
''They [All Blacks] are masters of forcing you to play the game where they want you to play and they feed off the result. Kicking it to them in an unstructured situation ... they just love that stuff," Deans said.
Scrivener echoed Deans' determination to run through or around the All Blacks.
"We want to get the flow and tempo back into our game. We won't be sticking it up our jumper for 80 minutes, that's for sure."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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