Australia coach Michael Cheika refused to be drawn on the controversial penalty that meant his side made the World Cup semi-finals at the expense of Scotland on 18 October. Bernard Foley notched the three points to give Australia a 35-34 win after referee Craig Joubert awarded the kick at goal for an offside just two minutes from time at Twickenham.
Scotland failed to gather from a line out, and as the ball bounced loose, it appeared to go forward from a Scotland arm before replacement Jon Welsh gathered from an offside position. But TV replays suggested that the ball may have been knocked back from an Australian hand. World Rugby later confirmed that Joubert could not have consulted the TMO about the awarding of the penalty.
You cant really tell because you are making decisions on what you are seeing with your natural bias as the game is on, said Cheika on whether the penalty should have been given. It is not until you go back and watch all the decisions and say That was a knock on or That was a scrum penalty you make all your assessments. But at the end of the day as long as rugby has been around that is what it is . You have to live with the ones you get and the ones you dont. I have become, because of some things that have happened to me in the past, I have become quite neutral on the whole topic. It is what it is and you just deal with it.
Meanwhile Australias coach was happy to admit to some naivety at committing to a running game. Cheika said his sides desire to attack the Scots throughout a breathless 80 minutes could have played into their resilient opponents hands. Australia scored five tries but underdogs Scotland took them to the wire.
We want to play the way our identity tells us and what we represent and that is to play running footie and do our best he said. You have to bring the rest of your game as well and I thought our defence in the first half wasnt up to standard especially close to the ruck You saw a guy walk through the middle of a ruck to score a try. And then there was a charge down and an intercept, some poor decisions there. But I think for where we are right now. If that is an escape I am happy to escape I think with five tries we deserve to be up there.
Ahead of their semi-final battle against Argentina, wily Cheika immediately tried to paint his team as the underdogs, saying he was far less experienced than counterpart Daniel Hourcade, and for that matter, Steve Hansen and Heyneke Meyer.
What it means is everyone knows each other very well, he said when asked if having all four semi-finalists from the southern hemisphere was an advantage given the fact Australia won the last Rugby Championship.
For us we are the junior member of the four because I have only been coaching one Rugby Championship. Daniel has been four years, as has Steve Hansen and Heyneke as well. They have more experience than me in the preparation of rugby championship etc. Look, we will prepare as best we possibly can, and set out a plan to perform on Sunday (25 October).