Scot­tish rem­edy for Izzy heights

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RUGBY - AL­LIANZ STA­DIUM

THE Wal­la­bies could sink to sixth in the world rank­ings to­mor­row and coach Michael Cheika will be drop­ping players for Satur­day’s clash against Italy af­ter sub­stan­dard ef­forts al­lowed Scot­land to beat them 24-19 yes­ter­day.

Ranked third head­ing into this week­end’s match, Aus­tralia are set to be over­taken by Ireland, Scot­land and South Africa, their low­est rank­ing since early 2015, af­ter which they pro­duced a mem­o­rable World Cup cam­paign to reach the final.

Cheika is hop­ing for a sim­i­lar turn­around this year and will start by ax­ing un­der­per­form­ing players.

He’d planned a block of five games — the three June Tests and the open­ing two Bledis­loe Cup clashes against the All Blacks in Au­gust — but said keep­ing new com­bi­na­tions to­gether was not his pri­or­ity now.

In­stead, we’ll dis­cover just who Cheika thought was “half a yard off the game” when he an­nounces his team on Thurs­day to play Italy in Brisbane.

“The first thing, when it comes to game time, is get­ting your mind­set right so you’re up­front and you’re at the con­test first, and that’s more im­por­tant than com­bi­na­tions, it’s more im­por­tant than any­thing,” Cheika said.

Cheika fore­cast changes to his side for Italy.

“I’d say so, I’d say there’d be a few,” he said. “It’s about be­ing more ur­gent to the game, will- ing the game more, you’ve got to make it hap­pen — it’s not just go­ing to hap­pen for you.”

Cheika was clearly ex­as­per­ated that the in­tent shown at train­ing this week did not trans­late to the match against a valiant Scot­tish side.

“You don’t win at train­ing, you win at the game, you’ve got to come to the game with your at­ti­tude on and again, we weren’t off com­pletely, we were just a lit­tle bit be­hind the pace we needed to set to win the game,” he said.

The Wal­la­bies blew nu­mer­ous late chances as Scot­land earned re­venge and put an­other black mark on Aus­tralian rugby this year.

Af­ter suc­ces­sive one-point de­feats to Aus­tralia, Scot­land with­stood a bar­rage of late at­tack­ing raids by the Wal­la­bies to claim a mem­o­rable vic­tory.

The loss has com­pounded Aus­tralia’s woes, with dis­ap­point­ing Su­per Rugby re­sults and the drawn out SANZAAR saga to cull three teams al­ready cre­at­ing a neg­a­tive vibe around the game.

That didn’t stop 30,721 fans turn­ing up, but most left bit­terly dis­ap­pointed.

Is­rael Fo­lau of the Wal­la­bies flies high over Greig Tonks of Scot­land to score one of his two tries. Pic­ture: Getty Images

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