Wednesday 21 August 2019

Wallabies on the right road after stunning All Blacks win

Australia head coach Michael Cheika. Photo: Getty
Australia head coach Michael Cheika. Photo: Getty

Andrew Baldock

Australia coach Michael Cheika said the Wallabies would not be getting carried away despite running up their highest ever score against the world champion All Blacks in a 47-26 win at Perth Stadium yesterday.

Even if New Zealand lock Scott Barrett was sent off just before half-time, there was plenty to like about the Wallabies' performance as they ran in six tries and secured back-to-back wins in the Rugby Championship for the first time since 2016.

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That they were able to do it in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 61,000 was particularly pleasing for Cheika, who has watched as Australian rugby has struggled for good news stories this year after the sacking of Israel Folau.

The record win could not have come at a better time with the World Cup just six weeks away but Cheika, who led the Wallabies to the final in 2015, said there was plenty of work yet to do.

"It's a building process, build a little bit, build a game, build a score and try and build a season," he said. "We know we'll have obstacles along the way but we've just got to try and get around them.

"We just want to try and understand that when obstacles come up, there's always a way round it. That's one of the most important things in footie, whether the obstacles are in your own head or via the opposition."

The victory keeps alive their hopes of wresting back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks for the first time since 2002 next week but only if they can break an Eden Park hoodoo that goes back to 1986.

Kurtley Beale, who had a fine match in the number 15 jersey Folau made his own for six years, said the Wallabies knew the job was only half done despite a "really special performance".

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"The All Blacks are a very special team, they've got the hunger in the belly and despite the red card, they really threw everything at us and you've got to respect that," the full-back said.

"We know it's not over yet, and we still need that win next week to get that Bledisloe Cup back."

Australia's victory means that Wales will become rugby union's new number one-ranked nation if they avoid defeat against England at Twickenham today.

World Rugby's latest rankings list - to be published tomorrow at noon - will confirm the end of New Zealand's 10-year reign at the top if Wales deliver.

The Six Nations champions are chasing a 15th successive victory - an ongoing record - and head coach Warren Gatland is not messing around. He has selected 13 of the team that started Wales' Six Nations title and Grand Slam-clinching victory over Ireland in March for their opening World Cup warm-up clash.

And it is also a red-letter day for Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones, whose 135th Test match appearance - 126 for Wales and nine in British and Irish Lions colours - will make him his country's most-capped player.

Jones, though, knows that a tough job awaits, especially as several England players face final World Cup auditions before head coach Eddie Jones announces his 31-man squad for Japan tomorrow.

"It is very easy to say it's just a warm-up, or a Rugby World Cup warm-up," Jones said. "For us, it's a Test. You pull on a jersey, it's a Test match jersey, and we are trying to treat it that way.

"There is probably a bit of pressure on us for that, and we are calling it a Test because we don't want to talk it down. We are very real in what we have achieved and how we have achieved it and where we can improve.

"We are a settled side, but there are still gears we can move into."

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