Mon, Sep 11, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Wallabies lack killer instinct, coach Cheika says

AFP, PERTH, Australia

The Wallabies’ Bernard Foley, center, kicks the ball on Saturday during their match against the South African Springboks at NIB Stadium in Perth, Australia.

Photo: EPA

Coach Michael Cheika says the Wallabies must find a killer instinct after again squandering a winning position to remain winless in the Rugby Championship ahead of their next match against Argentina.

The Wallabies led 20-10 early in the second half only for the Springboks to hit back for a 23-23 draw in Perth on Saturday.

That came a fortnight after the Australians relinquished a 17-point lead in a heart-breaking late 35-29 defeat to the All Blacks in Dunedin, New Zealand.

The Wallabies have now won only two of their six internationals this year and just eight from 21 Tests since losing the World Cup final to New Zealand almost two years ago.

However, Cheika remains steadfast in his belief that his playing group will develop a knack of prevailing in tight finishes.

“It comes with that little bit more time and trusting each other together,” Cheika said after Saturday’s draw. “There are a lot of newer players within a newer leadership team. Now we’ve got a bit of stability around the group. I’m pretty comfortable with our group of players. They’ll grow together as time goes on now.”

The Wallabies face another challenge against the Argentina Pumas in Canberra on Saturday.

The Pumas led 22-15 early in the second half before the world champion All Blacks racked up 24 unanswered points to win 39-22 in New Plymouth on Saturday and remain unbeaten after three matches in the Rugby Championship.

“It’s always a good match, Australia-Argentina in the recent past, in particular,” Cheika said.

“It’s been open and there’s been a fair bit of footy played, so we’re looking forward to taking another step and getting stuck into that match,” he said.

Cheika said his team could learn something off Kurtley Beale, who was Australia’s best player again, in just his third match back after returning from English club rugby.

Beale’s tactical kicking ensured the Wallabies played the game at the right end of the field for much of the match.

“For a guy who hasn’t played footy since the end of May, he’s just came in, played three or four games of footy and killed it,” he said. “He’s carved it up and he’s bitterly disappointed in that dressing room.”

“He’s a guy who we all need to just have that same attitude around wanting it a lot and staying at it,” Cheika added.

Cheika also praised 20-year-old debutant hooker Jordan Uelese, who made an earlier than expected appearance off the bench when first-choice hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau required a sideline concussion test early in the first half.

“He’s a talent. I know one line-out throw went sideways, but he threw a good one 5m out, had a run, had a good first scrum and got into it,” Cheika said. “He hasn’t started a game of Super Rugby and he’s come in for 20 minutes of international rugby.”

Former skipper and hooker Stephen Moore will be available to face Argentina after missing the Springboks Test to stay in Brisbane for the birth of his third child.

Back-row forward Sean McMahon will be assessed after injuring his thigh in the draw.

The Wallabies have only lost once to Argentina in 13 Tests at home, the defeat coming in Brisbane in 1983.

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