A gritty last-gasp win over Scotland might just be the beginning of the Wallabies’ mental strength turning a corner, coach Michael Cheika says.
Cheika believes that series losses to England and New Zealand would make them stronger mentally and he said the resolve they showed against Scotland was a glimpse of that coming through.
“You'd like to think a game like that would give you a bit of belief that that's happening,” he said.
“I think it is. The way the guys are training and their intensity, I'd say we didn't have 100 per cent match focus today.
“The reason I say that is because I see it in the line speed in defence, which is standard at this level.
“When you come out and don't do that I equate that to maybe not having the focus necessary, but we were able to improve that and battle through that and get some parity.
“I always back my blokes. They are learning about that stuff, about how to stay in the contest and not have to have all the play perfect.” - Michael Cheika
“I do believe that's happening for us. It's still a work in progress, no doubt.”
Even when his side found themselves nine points down deep into the game, Cheika said he had faith that they could turn the result in their favour, well before Tevita Kuridrani clinched the game breaker in the 75th minute..
“I always back my blokes. They are learning about that stuff, about how to stay in the contest and not have to have all the play perfect,” he said.
“Scotland spoiled us a fair bit at the set piece and put pressure on us on the ground so we weren't able to get the flow we wanted to in attack.
“In the second half we squared our defence away and got our line speed back up. We started getting back into the contest from there.”
It wasn’t all positive for the Wallabies, with returning lock Will Skelton handed a yellow card after a clumsy clean out on Scotland lock Jonny Gray, though that was a situation Cheika saw black and white.
“He's got to put his arms around that guy and he knows that,” he said.
“It's ill disciplined from him. Those decisions come down to the ref - whether it's a penalty or a yellow, but regardless it's an offence.
“We had our own penalty, it's after the whistle and it wasn't clever. He knows that himself. I don't even need to tell him so I don't think he'll be worried about me saying it here.”
While Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore wasn’t buying into any suggestions about a two-win start to the Spring Tour laying any kind of Grand Slam foundations, he was proud of his team’s comeback
“We knew we would potentially be in that situation and the guys showed some good mental toughness, if that’s what you want to call it at the end to stick to the game,” he said.
“It’s easy to panic in those situations and try and make something out of nothing and I thought we stuck to our game pretty well." - Stephen Moore
“It’s easy to panic in those situations and try and make something out of nothing and I thought we stuck to our game pretty well.
“There were some pretty clear voices out there on the field and that was pleasing.
“Of course it’s always better to be on the right side of the result and we know what it feels like to be on the other side.”
The Wallabies will be sweating on the fitness of Adam Coleman, who went off in just the fifth minute with a medial ligament injury.