Finishers will be the difference against Wales

by Staff Writer

The final 15 minutes at Twickenham on Saturday night will decide the Rugby World Cup Pool A winner, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says.

Coming up against Wales, who snatched a last-gasp win over England a fortnight ago, Cheika said the role of his “finishers” would be crucial on Saturday.

“We just want to finalise a few things and get our bench organised because I think...the finishers in this game are going to be really important,” he said.

“You just think (it’s the) fourth game of the pool, I think it’s going to go right down to the wire this game, I really do.”

Cheika is waiting until training on Thursday morning to confirm his bench, with fullback Israel Folau to undergo a fitness test at the session.

Australia has won its last 10 games against Wales, though all but one have been single figure margins and Cheika said he expected it to come down to the wire again.

“I think Wales are a team that back themselves a lot and they’ll play the game right out all the time,” Cheika said.

“I just think also by where we are at this stage in the tournament (it will be important),” he said.

“I know that there’ll be plenty of Welsh supporters there, they’ll make it their own home ground.

“We’ll have to be really strong, consistently strong in the the way we play the game over 80 minutes.”

While the game will decide the top pool spot, Cheika said it would be disrespectful to suggest that one path through the knock outs would be easier than another.

The winner of Saturday’s game will play one of Scotland or Japan in the quarter-final, while the loser will play South Africa in the final eight and possibly New Zealand in the semi-final.

“I just want to try to win every game, like individually,” he said.

“No team has ever won the world cup losing a game and we want to work on our improvements each week, which you know in tournament play you have to do.

“I don’t subscribe to theory you win the pool you’re going to get an easier run because that’s disrespecting the opposition and that’s not what we’re about.

“We just want to really do our best against Wales and it’s going to be a big game for us.

“We want to enjoy that part of it but also be ready for a massive battle because it’s going to be pretty painful, it’s going to be a tough game.

Cheika was optimistic Folau would make it through a fitness test on Thursday.

“Yeah he’s been okay,” he said.

“He hasn’t run as yet, so he’ll run today but the physios are feeling pretty confident about him playing.”

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