New Zealand 27 - 16 Australia, Rugby Championship
Scrum 'different beast now' - McKenzie
August 24, 2013
James Slipper is Australia's only injury concern, having been knocked out in the first half © Getty Images
The Wallabies scrum - their Achilles heel - was monstered once again by New Zealand as they struggle to adopt to "a completely different beast" under the new laws. But Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie defended his dazed and confused set-piece after they had given away two tight-heads and were penalised twice as many times as the home side. Scrum anchor Ben Alexander, in particular, endured a forgettable night against 100-Test veteran Tony Woodcock, and he was replaced after giving away three points in the 52nd minute.
Australia now have been outgunned at the set piece twice in their past three Tests, and Alexander, in particular, is in danger of being dropped for the September 7 Test against South Africa at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. McKenzie, who played 51 Tests as a tight-head prop, blamed the new "Crouch, Bind, Set" engagement process for much of their troubles, saying "it was a bit of a lottery there".
"To be honest, I don't understand what's going on," he said. "I used to be able to work out it out but now I don't know what's a penalty and what isn't. I've honestly got no idea, and I used to play in the front-row. I'm lost. It's a completely different beast now."
Wallabies captain James Horwill said both sides had been confused about referee Jaco Peyper's requirements from the front-rows, and what was penalised.
McKenzie was baffled why some scrum laws were important to the International Rugby Board and referees at present, while others were irrelevant."I don't see why we favour some and not the other," he said. "You can grab anything you like there."
But the scrum did not decide the match as Australia slipped to their 15th consecutive loss to the All Blacks on New Zealand soil; rather the Wallabies proved unable to take their chances while McKenzie accepted the world champions "made it look easy" when they had try-scoring opportunities.
New Zealand confirmed their trans-Tasman dominance in Wellington (video available only in Australia)