Cheika wants wins, not bonus points

Australia's Rob Simmons (left) catching the ball in a line-out against Fiji's Leone Nakarawa (No. 5). Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has deployed a rolling maul off attacking line-outs to good effect.
Australia's Rob Simmons (left) catching the ball in a line-out against Fiji's Leone Nakarawa (No. 5). Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has deployed a rolling maul off attacking line-outs to good effect.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CARDIFF • Australia coach Michael Cheika was adamant that victory - and not a quest for a bonus point - had been the focus of his team's opening World Cup game against Fiji, which they won 28-13 on Wednesday.

The Wallabies scored three tries through David Pocock (two) and Sekope Kepu to Fiji's one at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff but, crucially, missed out on the bonus point awarded to teams that score four tries or more.

Only two teams qualify for the quarter-finals from each of the four groups. Pool A rivals England and Wales have already bagged bonus points after their opening wins, but Cheika said it was not important that two-time world champions Australia had missed out on the extra point against Fiji.

"No, not really," said a straight-faced Cheika, who has 15 seasons of top-flight club coaching behind him, notably leading Irish province Leinster to European Cup glory in 2009.

"I'm new to Test footy and international rugby but, for me, winning a Test match, that's all you need to do and then move on to the next one.

"I'm not counting points, I just want to win one game and then go on to the next game and try and win that."

Wallaby fly-half Bernard Foley spent most of the first-half spurning kickable penalties to go for the corner and it paid off handsomely with Pocock's two tries.

But with 10 minutes left, Foley opted to kick at goal - a decision Cheika defended.

"What I do know is that if you lose a game, you'll be in strife," he said. "It's a very, very competitive pool, it's unfortunate that two or three teams are going to miss out. It's a very good quality pool for the players that are in it.

"I preach to my team to be humble, right, and I don't think coming into a match and saying, 'Yeah we're going to claim a bonus point off Fiji,' especially after the way they played the other night.

"England got a bonus point (against Fiji) in the very last minute... and they're a top, top team, probably the favourites in our pool because they're the home side."

The coach added he would be demanding consistent performances from his team to silence their detractors, with the next match coming against Uruguay in Birmingham on Sunday.

Cheika was particularly pleased with the rolling maul, deployed off attacking line-outs, on Wednesday.

It is a tactic that Pocock has used to devastating effect for his Brumbies club side this year.

"Obviously, it's been an excellent weapon for the Brumbies this season. They've got some very skilful players in that area and there're a few of them in the pack.

"They've been leading our team in building a better maul on both sides of the ball, not just in attack," he said. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline 'Cheika wants wins, not bonus points'. Print Edition | Subscribe