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Cheika taking it one game at a time

2015-10-04 12:53

London - Michael Cheika has made taking one game at a time the underpinning theme of Australia's World Cup, so there was little surprise that he brushed off a devastatingly brutal victory over England as "just another step".

The Australia coach could have been forgiven a hearty celebration having emerged from the fevered atmosphere of a hostile Twickenham with a record-breaking 33-13 win that moved them safely into the quarter-finals.

But that would have been wholly out of character with the measured calm he has adopted throughout a coaching career where his understated mantras focus on small steps and minor improvements.

"Obviously we are very pleased," he told reporters. "It wasn't perfect. There were still a lot of areas that I think we can improve on and it is just another step along the way in the pool.

"It is a very difficult pool and we are very pleased with the result and the commitment of the players. We will be asking for more of that going forward."

What Cheika described as 'just another step', was in fact a giant leap into the last eight, with their final pool match against Wales next Saturday, now a battle to decide who finishes top rather than the sudden death knockout it could have been.

Avoiding a likely quarter-final against South Africa and a possible semi against New Zealand is the incentive on offer for the victor in next week's Twickenham clash.

"At the end of the day, the pool score will be the pool score," said Cheika, whose coaching career has included successful spells at Leinster, Stade Francais and the Waratahs.

"I know you don't want to hear it but we just keep going day by day and genuinely living that story.

"Improve a bit, recover well, that's the approach the whole way through. If you prepare the best way you can, the outcomes will come from that."

England's beleaguered coach Stuart Lancaster was more forthcoming about Australia's prospects, without hesitation, marking them out as potential World Cup winners if they continue to play as they did at Twickenham.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley was England's chief torturer and a one-man wrecking ball for the hosts' World Cup ambitions with two tries and 28 of Australia's 33 points, thanks to his unfalteringly accurate right boot.

Yet this was no one-man show. England were taken apart in all areas of the game, dominated at the scrum, where they were supposed to have the upper hand, and a clear second best when it came to finding pockets of space in their opponents' defences.

Next week, back at Twickenham, Cheika will pit his wits against Wales coach Warren Gatland and he is expecting a testing encounter.

"I'm coming up against the master coach next week," he said. "He knows how to manoeuvre things around."

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