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Jones savaged in Australia after ‘long day at the office’ in South Africa

Coach Eddie Jones said he endured “a long day at the office” in Pretoria after a disastrous start to his second stint in charge of the Wallabies, with Australian media Sunday blasting their defeat to South Africa as an “embarrassment”.

Upbeat before the Rugby Championship opener against an understrength Springboks, he watched his team crash 43-12 on Saturday evening, concede two penalties tries and have two players yellow-carded.

“We just got beaten to the punch,” he admitted after Australia suffered an eighth consecutive loss at Loftus Versfeld since first playing there 60 years ago.

“We really got beaten in the set pieces. We got beaten on the gain line. We got beaten in the air. When you do not win any of those contests, it is going to be a long day at the office, which it was for us tonight.”

The Australian newspaper called the performance “an embarrassment” that “can’t be repeated”.

“Even before the mismatch, Jones’ choices against the Springboks left plenty of long-suffering Wallabies’ fans wondering what he was thinking,” the broadsheet said.

“Wholesale changes need to be made before next weekend’s clash against Argentina in Sydney because nothing wakes players up from a slumber than being dropped.”

The Sydney Morning Herald was equally scathing.

“We allowed ourselves to believe in an Eddie miracle. The Wallabies’ reality is more sobering,” it said.

“In the end, the Wallabies’ performance in Pretoria showed no real sign of progress from the (Dave) Rennie years — particularly the discipline — and in several areas, the Australian side even regressed.”

Jones acknowledged there were “not too many positives”. 

“We went out there to play with a bit of pace and were able to do that for 20 minutes,” he said.

“But we were unable to convert any of the pressure we put on the Springboks into points and then, of course, they came back and every time they got an opportunity, they scored.

“Once they got on top at the set piece, they utilised their big ball runners, and there is no better team than South Africa, once they get an edge, to keep playing on top of you.”

‘Back in the money’

Jones inherited in January from sacked New Zealander Rennie a team that lost nine of 13 internationals last season.

But the 63-year-old insisted he does not envisage a similar dismal run this season as they prepare for the Rugby World Cup in France from September 8.

Looking ahead to their second Rugby Championship match, against Argentina in Sydney on July 15, Jones said he was encouraged by the lineout work against South Africa.

“However, we must be more consistent in our set pieces. Our scrumming has to improve and we have got to find ways of getting over the gain line. 

“If we fix those issues we will be back in the money against Argentina,” added the coach, who was also in charge of Australia for four years from 2001 and led them to the 2003 World Cup final.

Jones singled out the Australian try scorers, winger Marika Koroibete and substitute back Carter Gordon, for praise.

“I thought Marika was outstanding and Carter, coming on for his first Test in a difficult situation, showed he has a bright future.”

Argentina fared almost as badly as Australia in the first round, conceding seven tries to New Zealand in a 41-12 loss in Mendoza and avoiding bottom place on points difference.  

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