Wallabies say they need to play smarter

The Wallabies concede they must play smarter rugby to beat a rampant England and keep their Test series alive on Saturday in Melbourne.

Australia opened the three-Test series with a 39-28 loss to England, who outmuscled and out-thought the home side to claim their first ever Test win at Suncorp Stadium.

Led by James Haskell and hard-running lock Maro Itoje, their dominance at the breakdown and set-piece was key, with the Wallabies not helping themselves with a 15-8 penalty count.

The Australians also too often looked predictable as they tried to batter England’s steely defensive line rather than change up their tactics.

Wallabies backrower Scott Fardy said his team didn’t adapt quickly enough to Romain Poite’s refereeing at the breakdown and scrum.

“Discipline is a big part,” the blindside flanker said.

“We need to make sure with their 50:50s, if they’re not on we’re pulling out and not making bad decisions.

“I was guilty of a few of those when I thought I was doing the right thing but it turns out I wasn’t.

“That’s what got England the game; six penalties they kicked – when you score four tries to two before the 79th minute and you’re still behind, it’s a disappointing thing.”

While coach Michael Cheika said he wouldn’t make wholesale changes, it appears he may make one backline change to bring in another playmaker at 12 to take the pressure off five-eighth Bernard Foley.

Brumbies inside centre Matt Toomua, who hasn’t played for six weeks following knee surgery, was at the team’s Melbourne hotel and could replace Samu Kerevi.

Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps said the team recognised they needed to kick more against England’s fast defensive line, an element Toomua could bring to the line-up.

“We’ve definitely identified that we know that we’ve got to be a bit better at relieving pressure,” Phipps said.

“There were probably opportunities in the game where we backed ourselves to use our feet a bit more than the ball in the air.”

One certain personnel change is a replacement for No.8 David Pocock, who is out for up to eight weeks with a fractured eye socket.

Wycliff Palu and Ben McCalman are options if Cheika goes for a traditional No.8, while Sean McMahon and Liam Gill will be in the mix if he prefers a fetcher in Pocock’s mould.

Fardy said Cheika hadn’t given away any hints but he had confidence in whoever got the nod.

“He’s (Pocock) going to be a big loss for us, any player of that calibre not playing is tough on the squad but I look at the guys who aren’t playing and I’m filled with a lot of confidence that they will do a good job,” Fardy said.

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