Cheika pinpoints failure to halt England’s momentum

Date published: December 3 2016

Australia head coach Michael Cheika recognised that his side's inability to break England's momentum in the second half cost them at Twickenham.

The Wallabies opened up a 10-0 lead and were ahead at the break after a sensational start as they looked for a first win of the year over England.

Tries from Marland Yarde and Ben Youngs in quick succession however put England in control, with Australia unable to regain the lead despite a score from Sekope Kepu.

"There were obviously a few decisions that we wouldn’t have agreed with, but in the overall context of the game we needed to work out how we were going to break their momentum in the second half," Cheika explained.

"They play a relatively pressure, conservative style to put you under pressure and we know that, to score off your errors. And we did that giving away a couple of tries off a dropped ball and a quick tap, turned our backs which is unforgivable.

"Even with a few decisions like that, with all those included, we had opportunities to break the momentum but we made errors and it cost us."

Cheika credited England's pressure-inducing tactics for producing crucial errors, with both of Jonathan Joseph's tries coming off mistakes by the Australian attack.

"They play a good game. They believe very much in the style of game they play, a pressure, conservative style and in Australia they scored a lot of tries off errors when we loaded up their attack," Cheika added.

"They play a really good solid game, are very well coached, and you don’t win 14 in a row out of luck. They’re playing good rugby, their own style, and that’s why they’re winning games."

Saturday's defeat means the Wallabies finish the year with a record of six wins from 15 Tests, but despite that Cheika stressed that he was happy with the side's progress, adding a new national focus around the same attacking foundations would pay off in the end. 

"Very positive about the team as a whole. Seeing the improvements, we are scoring tries that we wouldn’t have scored last year. There’s a different approach to coaching our players around the skill base and that’s going to take a bit of time to hammer home," Cheika stated.

"We’ll work hard with provinces to coach that up. We’re making the investments that we should have made in 2008-2009, getting a clear idea of how everyone needs to play with a certain skill level if we want to play this style of game, because you see what happens when you load up your attack and make one mistake, the other guys will kick the ball 40 metres down the field. That’s what can happen.

"You need to work hard to get it right and that’s how we and our supporters want us to play the game."