Sport

Under-fire Cheika laments wasted chances for rock-bottom Wallabies

Under-pressure Australian coach Michael Cheika bemoaned lost opportunities as they fell 23-12 to South Africa Saturday in the Rugby Championship in Port Elizabeth.

Winners: South African players celebrate after winning the Rugby Championship match against Australia
Winners: South African players celebrate after winning the Rugby Championship match against Australia (AFP)

Under-pressure Australian coach Michael Cheika bemoaned lost opportunities as they fell 23-12 to South Africa Saturday in the Rugby Championship in Port Elizabeth.

The fifth-round defeat left the Wallabies last in the standings behind New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina with just five points from a possible 25.

But Cheika, who has achieved only two wins from the Wallabies' last 10 starts, was positive about the performance.

"We did not capitalise tonight on the opportunities we created. We created some really good opportunities," he told a media conference.

"We just could not finish a couple of times. It was two tries all -- we basically gave one away and then we had a lot of good footy, but you have to capitalise on your advantage.

"We had a lot of opportunities, we had the advantage, but we could not capitalise on it and,therefore, we could not get another try or two to get us in a winning position."

Cheika said his team's bad start in which Kurtley Beale gifted a try to Aphiwe Dyantyi after 23 seconds, was one thing, but the way they rallied was a positive he would cling to.

"For sure, we were down 14-0 in a bit of a cauldron atmosphere and considering where we have been in the last few weeks, we held our nerve really well.

"We fought our way back into the game. I don't think we dominated the physical contest enough, but we were still able to manufacture a lot of opportunities.

"I think there are plenty of positives, but the thing we need to improve on is our ability to finish.

"Next week, we need to take all the improvements we have made into the Argentina game.

"I'm not saying I'm happy losing, (but) I think we made progress from the last game, just in the energy and resilience.

"A fair few things did not go our way with the decision making, but we still had a fair few chances to nail it.

Captain Michael Hooper echoed Cheika's sentiments and was happy with the performance, despite the result.

"We got to a position at the back end of the game we had some huge opportunities to get points and could not get there.

"We are creating a lot, putting pressure on for long periods of time, and it is hard to say now if the decisions we took were the right ones."

Australia complete their six-match Championship schedule away to Argentina in Salta next Saturday.