Rugby: Wallabies caught in a rut

Australia's Kurtley Beale charging through the Springboks' backline. The Wallabies will again turn to their standout player ahead of Saturday's Test against Argentina.
Australia's Kurtley Beale charging through the Springboks' backline. The Wallabies will again turn to their standout player ahead of Saturday's Test against Argentina.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Coach hopes new-look Australia squad will pick up form after more playing time together

PERTH • Coach Michael Cheika says Australia 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 South Africa 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 heartbreaking late 35-29 defeat by New Zealand.

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

But 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 one another together," Cheika said.

"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."

The Wallabies will face another stiff challenge against Argentina in Canberra on Saturday.

The Pumas led 22-15 early in the second half before the world champions 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," Cheika said. "It's been open and there's been a fair bit of footy played so we're looking forward to getting stuck into that."

Cheika said his team could learn something from 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 come in and killed it," Cheika said. "He's a guy who we all need to just have that same attitude around wanting it a lot and staying at it."

Former skipper and hooker Stephen Moore will be available to face Argentina after missing the South Africa 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, that defeat coming in Brisbane in 1983.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'Wallabies caught in a rut'. Print Edition | Subscribe