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Widespread improvement needed: Steve Smith

AAP logoAAP 7/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Steve Smith has a clear idea of what Australia must improve to level their three-Test series against South Africa: everything.

It was a first-innings collapse of 10-86 that changed the course of the first Test, which Australia lost by 177 runs at the WACA on Monday.

But Smith noted that wasn't the only concerning element about the defeat, which was Australia's first loss in the opening Test of a home summer since 1988.

"Every aspect of the game needs some improvement," the skipper said as his side confronted home truths and a short turnaround before the second Test, which starts in Hobart on Saturday.

"I can't fault the guys' work ethic. We work extremely hard at practice and do all the right things.

"It's just about when we get out in the middle - we've got to do things better.

"The guys will work hard at training over the next couple of days to make sure that on the first morning of that Test match we're ready to go."

Australia dropped three catches during South Africa's second innings of 8(dec)-540. The three errors cost 153 runs and ensured Australia remained in the field for 160.1 overs.

The hosts bowled well in patches during a game-changing partnership of 250 runs from JP Duminy and Dean Elgar - especially Josh Hazlewood - but weren't able to generate as much reverse swing as the opposition.

"When the ball is hard and reversing it's probably the hardest thing to face," Smith said.

"We got it going at times.

"We've just got to try and manage the ball as much as we can to get the ball going as well.

"I'm not sure of the reason why but it certainly seemed like their ball stayed harder for a lot longer."

Offspinner Nathan Lyon failed to fire in the Proteas' second innings but notably wasn't used on day three until the second session.

Smith dismissed speculation Lyon was on the outer.

"I do (have confidence in him) ... he's still looking to continue to improve as well but I'm happy with everything and there's no issue there at all," he said.

Wicketkeeper Peter Nevill was one member of the XI to stand up under pressure.

He was wrongly given out on 23 during the first innings, while he finished 60 not out and almost dragged the game to tea on day five while trying to salvage a draw.

"The guys fought quite hard. Nevvy ... to be there at the end was great," Smith said.

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