Rugby World Cup 2015

Wallabies need 'something extra' in final: Cheika

Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper celebrates scoring a try against Argentina. The Wallabies will face tournament favourites the All Blacks, who beat the Springboks 20-18, in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.
Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper celebrates scoring a try against Argentina. The Wallabies will face tournament favourites the All Blacks, who beat the Springboks 20-18, in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Australia will need "something extra just to be competitive" in their Rugby World Cup final against defending champions New Zealand, according to coach Michael Cheika.

The Wallabies have won just one of their last 12 Tests against the All Blacks, with two drawn. The lone victory, a 27-19 success in Sydney, came in August.

They again demonstrated their attacking threat in the 29-15 semi-final win over Argentina at Twickenham on Sunday. They ran in four tries, with wing Adam Ashley-Cooper grabbing a hat-trick after lock Rob Simmons took just 68 seconds to cross the Pumas' line.

However, New Zealand, who edged out South Africa 20-18 in the first semi-final, start as favourites in the final on Saturday.

"They are obviously the world's number one, aren't they?" said Cheika.

Highlighting Australia's win rate in recent games, he added: "They'll be feeling they've got our measure and it's going to be up to us to do something special, something extra just to be competitive.

"We've got to improve massively from what we did (against Argentina) to even be in the hunt. When you've got a team like New Zealand with so many threats, who are so well-drilled and have such a great coach (Steve Hansen) you have to be working hard all the time."

Australia won this year's Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship. They then beat England and Wales to top a World Cup "Pool of Death" before surviving a huge quarter-final scare with a last-ditch 35-34 win over Scotland.

By contrast, it was not until the All Blacks faced the Springboks that the defending champions were given a truly tough 80-minute match at this tournament.

"New Zealand have had a very different path from us to here," said Cheika. "But it's a World Cup final and the adrenaline's going to be pumping and anyone who's a little bit sore will forget all about soreness (this week)."

The coach promised Australia would remain true to their running rugby brand, even against a side as dangerous on the break as New Zealand.

"I've been brought up I suppose with attacking footy, but you've still got to have the rest of it as well," said Cheika.

"It does leave you open, on the counter-punch sometimes. But I think that's how Australians want us to play.

"Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Like you've seen, it's not always the magic formula. So you've just got to get the right balance."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2015, with the headline 'Wallabies need 'something extra' in final: Cheika'. Print Edition | Subscribe