Wallabies won’t celebrate win too hard

The Wallabies are keeping the lid firmly in place despite the euphoria of their Bledisloe Cup breakthrough, with coach Michael Chieka reminding his team they have won nothing yet.

Australia defeated New Zealand 23-18 in Saturday’s third Test, scoring three tries to two at Suncorp Stadium to snap a seven-game trans-Tasman losing streak.

It took a ferocious defensive effort in the second half to repel the rallying All Blacks but for once, the Wallabies were able to protect their hard-earned lead and grind out a terrific, hard-earned result.

It was only a dead rubber but the expressions on players’ faces showed just what it meant after a year where Australian Super Rugby sides lost all 26 matches against Kiwi opposition.

But Cheika was quick to put it into context.

“As enjoyable as the win was, the disappointment of not winning the cup still resonates for me,” he said.

“We’re certainly not going to be making any mistakes, starting to blow trumpets or anything like that.

“We worked hard, we fought for the game – it could have gone either way at the end very easily and you could have been sitting here saying you lost again.”

Australia led 17-13 midway through the second half but were able to withstand the visitors’ charge, which came late through Rieko Ioane’s 71st minute try.

Damian McKenzie missed the conversion attempt in a major let-off for the Wallabies before Reece Hodge went on to boot his second long-range penalty of the night with two minutes to go to send them on their way.

The cool, calm and collected finish was in stark contrast to the way they coughed up the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Dunedin, or the way they failed to finish off the Springboks on two separate occasions in the Rugby Championship.

Cheika told his players at halftime that it would come down to the last five minutes and his words were prophetic.

“You’re not going to defeat the world champion with 20 minutes to go. It just doesn’t happen,” Cheika said.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the game’s going to pretty much go down to the last few minutes because they’re so dangerous at any stage.”

Captain Michael Hooper was personally vindicated for his decision to kick to the corner instead of taking a certain three points on offer midway through in the second half, which paid off when Marika Koroibete crossed for a try on the other side of the field a minute later.

“I thought the way to beat these guys is to do something they probably wouldn’t expect. It paid off on that occasion because guys believed in the system,” he said.

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