Cheika stays grounded after Wales mauling

Sat, 05 Nov 2016 19:54
Large bernard foley try australia v wales 800

REACTION: Australian coach Michael Cheika refused to get carried away, after watching his team destroy Wales 32-8 in the opening match of their gruelling six-game year-end tour.

Cheika has consistently played down expectations of a first Wallaby Grand Slam since 1984 - with games lined up against Scotland, France, Ireland and England, plus a midweek match with the French Barbarians.

But on the strength of a stunning first-half in Cardiff, where his team ran in three tries for a 20-3 half-time lead, few would doubt that Australia have the attacking nous and defensive hardness to severely test all the Home Nations.

"We prepared well during the week," said Cheika, who led his team to the World Cup Final before a change in playing personnel coincided with a dip in form.

That saw the Wallabies suffer a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of a touring England side and a record 42-6 home defeat by New Zealand.

But, fired by flyhalf Bernard Foley, the team played a gloriously unshackled style of rugby in Cardiff, a solid forward platform setting up the likes of Israel Folau and Dane Haylett-Petty to run a shambolic Welsh defence amok.

"The boys believed in our preparation and went out there and played that way," Cheika said, praising their "attitude and willingness to work hard".

"Foley played very well, that goes without saying. He had a good platform laid for him by the forwards and he had some good running backs on the outside of him as well. It was a team effort.

"It's a good win for us today, but that's the standard we need to remain consistent with and slightly improve on if we can."

Cheika also had a word of sympathy for Wales, saying they were just as under-cooked as Australia were when they lost to England in June.

"It's difficult, that's the nature of the seasons," he said.

"We've got to make sure that we keep getting fitter and more battle-hardened for the matches ahead because they're only going to get tougher as teams from the Northern Hemisphere get more games under their belt.

"It's a good start, obviously, but we're going to try to take it one match at a time."

Foley exchanged an early penalty with Leigh Halfpenny before the visitors scored three first-half tries from skipper Stephen Moore, Reece Hodge and Tevita Kuridrani to lay the bedrock for a dominant display.

Foley himself stretched the lead early in the second period with his own try before Scott Williams pulled one back for the home side, Haylett-Petty having the last laugh when he crossed for a fifth try.

Agence France-Presse