Aus upbeat despite Tri-Nations loss
Coach remains optimistic as Australia are edged out by NZ in the Tri-Nations.
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2009 09:20 GMT

Dan Carter of the All Blacks gets a pass away [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia coach Robbie Deans remained optimistic despite his side's third consecutive loss in the Tri-Nations rugby tournament, which ensured the Bledisloe Cup would stay with New Zealand for a seventh consecutive year.

New Zealand edged Australia 19-18 in Sydney, with flyhalf Daniel Carter kicking the decisive 78th-minute penalty.

The match, played before 80,000 fans at the former Olympic stadium at Homebush, was the All Blacks' 11th victory in the past 13 Tests between the teams, including a 22-16 win in Auckland on July 18.

"The expectations are just as high and the expectations of the group are high,'' Deans said.

"If we continue to add to what we're doing we'll get there.

"I suspect with the amount of pain we're going through right now it'll be a habit we'll want to keep. I'm not going to go belly up if that's what you're asking.''

Under pressure

Australia had a 15-6 lead with 30 minutes remaining but the Wallabies faltered under pressure, allowing the All Blacks to seal the Bledisloe Cup with two matches to spare.

The Wallabies flew to Perth on Sunday for the first of two matches against the Tri-Nations-leading Springboks.

They will play South Africa again in Brisbane on September 5 before ending their Tri-Nations campaign against New Zealand in Wellington on September 19.

New Zealand coach Graham Henry has a 5-1 lead in head-to-head contests against Deans, a New Zealander who was overlooked for the All Blacks job that Henry kept despite his side's unexpected quarter-final exit at the 2007 World Cup.

Australia's Berrick Barnes, who left in the second half with a neck injury, and teenage fullback James O'Connor, who had x-rays which cleared him of a leg fracture, are both expected to play next Saturday in Perth against South Africa.

"James O'Connor's x-ray was clear so that's a good start,'' Deans said.

"It was just a blow to the lower leg ... but it's still a bit uncomfortable.''

Counting injuries

Australia flanker Rocky Elsom, who played his first test of the season after a knee injury, has a left ankle ailment, while lock Nathan Sharpe is nursing a shoulder problem.

Deans said both players will be monitored this week.

Henry said Luke McAlister suffered a fractured cheekbone and Conrad Smith a torn hamstring, but the pair will have a few weeks to recuperate - the All Blacks do not play again until September 12 at Hamilton against South Africa.

"The two centres are not too good and Conrad will take some time,'' Henry said.

"I haven't talked to the doctor about recovery time yet. There's a few casualties in there.''

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