MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia forwards coach Geoff Parling has mounted a staunch defence of the Wallabies’ lineout after a shaky start against the All Blacks in the first Bledisloe Cup test.
The Wallabies lost three early lineouts as hooker Folau Faingaa’s throws failed to find their mark before the set-piece settled in the 16-16 draw in Wellington.
“People will say we lost a couple of lineouts but they lost a couple as well,” Parling told reporters in a video call.
“So I thought we handled the pressure well at halftime and we adjusted well there.”
The visitors fielded a new second row with Matt Philip recalled for his first test in three years to partner Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, who played mostly in the back row under former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
Whether it was a lack of familiarity or the Wellington wind, Faingaa gave up possession with a crooked throw in the 24th minute and missed his target on the next lineout near the All Blacks goal-line, resulting in a turnover, penalty and an 8-0 deficit.
Faingaa had a better throw during an attacking lineout on the cusp of halftime but bungled the set move that followed it with a poor pass that led to another turnover.
The All Blacks subsequently ran the ball down the field for what should have been a try to Rieko Ioane and a 13-3 lead but the centre failed to ground the ball.
Although Faingaa’s struggles have been in the spotlight in the leadup to Sunday’s second test at Eden Park, Parling backed his players and lavished praise on Philip and Salakaia-Loto for their ball-carrying work in Wellington.
“Naturally, (new) combos, especially on the defensive side of the ball as well, take a little bit of getting used to,” he said.
“We’ll keep looking at things but we’ll certainly back the guys who are in there to do a decent job.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford
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