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‘Rusty’ Australia frustrate Rennie despite Japan victory

‘Rusty’ Australia frustrate Rennie despite Japan victory


Australia won five games in a row for the first time in six years but coach Dave Rennie was frustrated by the performance in a 32-23 victory over Japan, as both team fine-tuned preparations for the Autumn Nations Series.

The Wallabies flew out of the blocks in Oita, as Quade Cooper produced a trademark step and offload to send Tom Wright over before Jordan Petaia dotted down to make it 14-3.

Lomano Lemeki hit back with a try for Japan but when Taniela Tupou barged over early in the second half and Rob Leota finished off a spectacular move that included Nic White collecting his own chip and Cooper throwing a stunning behind-the-back flick pass, Australia were 27-13 to the good.

But the Brave Blossoms hit back – a Ryoto Nakamura interception try and a Yu Tamura penalty putting them within four points before a debut try from hooker Connal McInerney sealed a nervy win for the visitors.

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It’s the first time they have won five consecutive games since their run to the 2015 World Cup final but Rennie is still keen to see improvements.

“A little bit rusty and it was fairly frustrating,” said the coach of the Wallabies’ performance. “We played a lot of good footy, but we just didn’t kick the ball enough.

“There was a lot of space where we could apply pressure but we tended to overplay.

“We got some good go-forward, almost got sucked into going more phases when they had no cover in the backfield, so that was disappointing and we ended up putting ourselves under pressure.”

The next time Australia take to the field, it will be in the Autumn Nations Series against Scotland at BT Murrayfield, before clashes with England and Wales.

And they face a nervy wait over the fitness of full-back Reece Hodge, who exited the game against Japan early due to a pec injury.

“The plan is he’ll travel,” Rennie said of Hodge. “We’ve got a couple of weeks before we play Scotland, so it’ll buy us some time if it’s long-term.”

For their part, Japan gambled on going for the victory when Tamura slotted the late penalty, with the intention of getting the ball back and scoring a winning try, rather than just trying to draw with a potential converted try.

And they’ll bring that attacking verve to the Autumn Nations Series with their first game against Ireland on November 6 and a trip to Scotland on the schedule two weeks later.

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