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Battered Wallabies question scrum tactics

AAP logoAAP 20/11/2016 Joe Barton

After watching the Wallabies scrum get steamrolled back to the dark old days against a monster French front row, coach Michael Cheika launched an impassioned defence of his tight five.

While there's little doubt the Australian scrum has made significant improvements in the past two years under Cheika and his guru Mario Ledesma, the frailties were on display for a ravenous Stade de France crowd.

Australia lost all ten scrums in Saturday's nailbiting 25-23 victory - three on their own feed - as France feasted firstly upon a starting front-row, which had rested its settled trio, and again when the experienced faces arrived.

The Wallabies were perhaps fortunate to avoid a scrum penalty in the final moments of the match, which would've given the home side a potential game-winning kick - as noted by French coach Guy Noves.

"We definitely were beaten in the scrum area," Cheika said.

"One key scrum we got turned over but we'll fight back.

"We've come a long way in the scrum and maybe the combination of tactics tonight didn't work for us in that area.

"We'll get our stuff right and get ready for both games that we've got next week."

But while admitting defeat in that area, Cheika said his side was becoming a victim of their tactics and hinted that it was through nefarious methods that his pack was being beaten.

"It was tough but I think, I don't know how to say it, we try to scrum a certain way and that's how we've been told we're going to scrum, which is square," Cheika said.

"You can't bind in certain places and maybe we just are doing too much of the right thing because the angles of different props they we're encountering is not how it's supposed to happen, it's supposed to be square scrummaging.

"What do you do? Sometimes that happens in a game and you've got to be resilient and get out of it, that's all there is to it."

Australia enjoyed a brief period, shortly after halftime, where their scrum held firm and there were no penalties conceded.

Cheika said there had been a distinct message at the break to stiffen up that part of the set piece.

"We said that at half-time, we said try to find a solution to the scrum issues so we could keep that contest alive," he said.

"But I suppose our strategy is to scrum solid, try and dominant the opposition and get good front foot ball, not just get the ball out.

"Whereas other scrums may look to get penalties - it's different tactics."

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