Australia might have come away from its opening World Cup match against Fiji without a four-try bonus point, but coach Michael Cheika says he is just happy just to get the win.
Both England and Wales, Australia’s main rivals in the tournament’s toughest pool, secured a bonus point in their opening matches and Australia had a chance to go for one late in their match at the Millennium Stadium.
Rattled by a second-half fightback by the Pacific Islanders, however, fly half Bernard Foley kicked a penalty in the 70th minute to extend the lead to 28-13 rather than opting to kick to touch for an attacking lineout.
“I’m new to Test footy, right, and international rugby, but for me, winning a Test match, that’s all you need to do and then move on to the next one,” Cheika told reporters.
“I’m not counting points, I just want to win one game and then go on to the next game and try and win that.
“I think we’re very pleased to have a win in our first game. The boys have been waiting to play for a fair while.”
Cheika’s second attempt to address the question of the bonus, which was clearly irritating him, turned into a tribute to how good Fiji has become.
“What I do know is that if you lose a game, you’ll be in strife. It’s a very, very competitive pool,” he said.
“I preach to my team to be humble, right, and I don’t think [we should be] coming into a match and saying ‘yeah, we’re going to claim a bonus point off Fiji’.”
What did please Cheika was the rolling maul, which earned two first-half tries for flanker David Pocock, and how the team emerged from a sluggish period after the break.
“We were under a bit of heat in the middle 20 minutes after half-time but we regained our composure quite nicely and got ourselves into the right position so we could push the (lead) out to two scores,” he said.
That triggered a return to issue of the absent bonus point.
“If anyone doubts the truth about us on the bonus point thing, that decision to go for goal shows the respect we have for the opposition and how we believe we should go and win each game on its own merits,” he said.