UNDER FIRE: Michael Hooper of the Wallabies runs at the England defence.
UNDER FIRE: Michael Hooper of the Wallabies runs at the England defence. DAN PELED

Wallabies penalty call was the right one, says Grey

RUGBY: The Wallabies should have taken the penalty-kick option when down by six points in the dying minutes of their series-conceding 23-7 defeat to England on Saturday night.

That was the opinion of former Wallabies captain and World Cup winner George Gregan in his post-game analysis.

Many other fans and pundits agreed, but Wallabies defence coach Nathan Grey said he was happy with the decision-making process adopted by stand-in captain Michael Hooper while regular skipper Stephen Moore was on the bench in the final minutes.

The Australians failed to score from the 64th-minute penalty, before a late England try blew the score out in favour of the visitors as they wrapped up their first-ever series win on Australian shores.

Hooper made the opposite call when the game was in its tight final few minutes in Brisbane.

The Wallabies lost that game 39-28, with the flanker opting to take a penalty kick that put his side down by four points with three minutes to go.

That too copped plenty of criticism.

But Grey stood behind the Waratahs star’s decision-making process for the second Test in Melbourne, Hooper being one of Australia’s best performers in both losses.

“We always back what the leadership on the field want to do,” Grey said.

“Choosing to take those kicks to the corner, we scored a try off a rolling maul and we were able to do that well.

“If we do that and then score the points (again) we’re having a different conversation.

“We’ll always back our leaders to make those right decisions.”

A recurring theme after the deflating defeat in Melbourne – to the same team Australia beat 33-13 in the World Cup last year – is the third Test in Sydney on Saturday night won’t be a dead rubber.

“Every time you run out in an Australian jersey the motivation is always the same,” Grey said.

“There’s no extra motivation this week at all.

“The players are very focused as well as the coaching staff on preparing the best way we can possibly prepare, and deliver a performance that we can be proud of.

“That’s been lacking in our last two games for a full 80-minute performance.”

One thing is clear for the Wallabies, though. Their pride is hurting after England overtook them to No.2 in the world rankings, thanks largely to their amazing defence, continually turning away the Wallabies’ attack in Melbourne.

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