Rugby World Cup 2011
Mallett praises Aussie scrum
Nick Mallett (File)
Auckland - Coach Nick Mallett singled out Australia's much-improved scrum for praise as the Wallabies put the cleaners through Italy 32-6 to open their World Cup campaign at North Harbour on Sunday.
The Italians have a big reputation for forward play, but the Azzurri failed to make it count against the Wallabies, whose forwards have been considered a weakness in the past.
But South African Mallett complimented the Wallabies' pack for setting up the platform for their four-try bonus point victory in their Pool C opening game.
"I don't think we had complete dominance in the scrum, except for that last attempted push-over try," Mallett said.
"We do have a very good scrum but Australia scored a very good try (winger Digby Ioane) from first phase ball from a scrum.
"If your scrum is in all sorts of trouble then it's very difficult to score a try from first phase and even though we made an error a try was scored off a set piece scrum and Australia has to take a lot of confidence from that."
Mallett was pleased with his team's performance against the world number two team.
"Let's not forget we played against a team that won the Tri-Nations, they scored 25 points against the All Blacks, we played against a strong team," he said.
"Italy did well for that first 40 minutes and certainly there were mistakes made but I'm very proud of them.
"I do feel sorry that we didn't keep up the pace we had the first half but I'm not disappointed in them."
Mallett, surprisingly let go by Italy after four years in charge and despite securing a prestige Six Nations victory over France, said Ioane's try was the turning point.
"Ioane's break down the middle of the field opened us up for the game. The moment they made line breaks our scramble defence and catch-up defence was too slow," he said.
"When they do get quick front foot ball they are a very difficult side to defend against," he said.
"Our objective was to stop any first phase attack from too far across the advantage line and then we could sort out our defence.
"We had a couple of opportunities in the second half particularly from a push-over try when the ball wasn't controlled at the back of the scrum, but all in all I'm pretty happy."
Italy take on Russia in Nelson on September 20.