Having secured the less treacherous path to World Cup glory, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika continued to play down the benefits of finishing top of Pool A.
Australia’s gutsy 15-6 win over Wales on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) sealed top spot in the pool, setting up a clash with world No.9 Scotland next Sunday (Monday AEDT).
Meanwhile, Wales face a quarter-final against the resurgent Springboks and a potential semi-final with world champions New Zealand.
However Cheika wasn’t taking any joy from landing on the opposite side of the draw to Australia’s top Rugby Championship rivals.
“I know that people like to make comments based on whatever rankings (there are) but at the end of the day there’s no favourable side of the draw,” he said.
“The only favour is that you’re in it, you’re still there.
“That’s the only good bit about it. They’re all tough games now. They’re all knock out.
“You can’t get away with a bad game and then make it up in your pool somewhere.
“All the way through that’s been spoken about, and I don’t believe that’s the case.”
Cheika has repeatedly pointed to the stunning upsets already this tournament, notably Japan’s shock victory over South Africa, as proof nobody should be underestimated.
He was quick to note Scotland’s impressive recent record, with the tartan army boasting victories in two of their past three matches against Australia.
“You don’t need to look very hard at some of the other results and the way some of the other games have gone in the tournament to think that any opponent is easier or harder,” he said.
“Australia has lost to Scotland the last couple of times – and maybe that’s because they thought (it would be easier). But we won’t be thinking it this week.
“What I do know is that Vern Cotter is a very clever coach.
“…He’s got a very strong plan and I’m sure he’ll have them ready for the knockout games that start now.”
Champion flanker David Pocock knows better than most what it takes to win quarter-finals – he produced the match of his life four years ago against South Africa which the Wallabies won 11-9.
And he expects Scotland to aim up next weekend.
“They’ve got huge capability and we’re moving into the knockout stages, so we know we’ve got to improve for another big one next weekend for sure,” Pocock said.