Wallabies must zero in on Pumas

TEDDINGTON (England) • Australia coach Michael Cheika says he will have to up his game to focus Wallaby minds on the stiff challenge posed by Argentina in the World Cup semi-finals after their near miss against Scotland.

He admitted that he did not prepare his players properly for the quarter-final, which was settled by a penalty which should not have been awarded.

"As a coach, I let them think too much of the games before, Wales and England. I let that atmosphere stay when I should have just wiped those things out and focused them on the Scottish scrum or whatever," he said.

Scotland, bottom of the Six Nations tournament this year after losing all five games, came within a minute of ousting the Rugby Championship title holders before the Wallabies squeaked past 35-34.

Coach Michael Cheika will not compromise on Australia's trademark running rugby against Argentina, who also attack in style.

Australia had earlier enjoyed good pool wins over England (33-13) and Wales (15-6) but were more uncertain and error-prone against Scotland.

"I don't think as a coach I performed very well last week in preparing the team for the game and I won't let that happen again," vowed Cheika.

He said he was looking for improvement from his team. But he is not going to compromise on the team's trademark running rugby against a Puma side who also showed their attacking style in their 43-20 humbling of Six Nations champions Ireland in the quarter-finals.

"They've been developing their play methodically over the past two years," he added. "They are more expansive with good playmakers and they are able to do all that because they have a good base, the scrum."

Argentina were heavily beaten by Australia in Mendoza last July, conceding four tries in a 34-9 defeat. But the previous year, they defeated the Wallabies 21-17 at the same venue.

After watching Scotland come close to beating the team who until then had been the most consistently impressive in the tournament, the Pumas sense an opportunity.

"Australia are one of the best attacking teams around and they are very hard to defend against because they have different ways of playing," said Argentina defence coach Pablo Bouza. "I think every match is 50-50 at the start but we know we are going to have to be at 100 per cent to beat them."



A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Wallabies must zero in on Pumas'. Print Edition | Subscribe