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Wallabies coach blasts diabolical defence

Michael Cheika is vowing to stick by defensive coach Nathan Grey despite the Wallabies leaking eight tries against the All Blacks for the first time in 81 years.

Cheika condemned the Wallabies’ diabolical tackling after the All Blacks opened the Rugby Championship with a record-setting 54-34 rout in Sydney on Saturday.

The rampant world champions piled on six tries in the first half alone in racking up their highest total against Australia in 114 years of trans-Tasman Test battles.

“It was pretty plain to see that our defence wasn’t good enough, at all,” Cheika said.

“The adherence to the way we want to defend plus also the tackling in itself, it’s got to be better.

“That first part of the game was not the level that you can be at – not in any game, let alone against them.”

The Wallabies missed 39 tackles in a disastrous first-half performance that left any realistic hopes of winning back the Bledisloe Cup in 2017 in tatters.

Yet Cheika will continue backing Grey’s defensive system, saying the Wallabies’ problems stemmed from indecision.

“It’s not attitude. It’s maybe that little bit of doubt creeps in,” he said.

“When something goes against you early – and we’ve been preparing a certain way – if it creeps in, a little bit of doubt, (you’re thinking) half, will go I? will I hedge? That causes some of the problems.”

Asked if he’d persist with Grey and his structures, Cheika said: “One hundred per cent … one hundred per cent”.

The contest was over at halftime, with the All Blacks leading 40-6 after try-scoring doubles to Rieko Ioane and Ryan Crotty, further five-pointers to Liam Squire and Sonny Bill Williams and five conversions to Beauden Barrett.

The onslaught continued immediately upon the resumption as the All Blacks surged to a 54-6 lead in 48 minutes after chalking up eight tries against Australia for the first time since 1936.

A crowd of just 54,846 fans – the lowest-ever for a Bledisloe battle at ANZ Stadium – witnessed one of the Wallabies’ lowest-ever performances.

Consolation replies to Curtis Rona on debut, Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau flattered the Wallabies, who were outclassed in every facet of play.

“It’s not the start we’d hoped for in this series and in particular this game,” said Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.

If history is any guide, the Bledisloe Cup will remain in New Zealand hands for a 15th straight year with the Wallabies having never won a series after losing the first match at home.

The two sides square off again next Saturday in Dunedin with Cheika’s demoralised troops needing to somehow conjure a first win across the Tasman since 2001 to keep the series alive before game three in Brisbane in October.

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