SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia coach Michael Cheika rued the inability of the Wallabies to close out matches after they surrendered a big lead for a second successive test to remain winless in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.
The Wallabies held a 17-0 lead over the All Blacks in their previous outing in Dunedin before losing 35-29 and were 20-10 up after 48 minutes in Perth before South Africa stormed back to force a 23-23 draw.
“We wanted to have a win tonight, no doubt, but we have a young team who are learning how to deal with those situations,” Cheika said.
“The key thing is they need to get better from that situation there, because with 10 up, we should have gone on with that.
“There’s no doubt about the effort in all parts of the game (but) we just need to be a little bit more clinical in the trademarks we want to see in our game, especially around the set piece.”
South Africa got back on terms courtesy of a Malcolm Marx try from a catch-and-drive off an attacking line-out and Elton Jantjies gave the Springboks a 23-20 lead with his third penalty after the visitors had dominated the Wallabies in a scrum.
“I think we just got slow in the speed of the game and made a couple of set-piece errors that put us in difficult positions,” Cheika added.
“I think we made a few too many set-piece errors to build the pressure to finish that game off.
“We couldn’t close out the key moments, we kept leaving the opposition in the game and it ended up a draw.”
Australia have now won only eight of 21 tests since the 2015 World Cup final and, with two of their three remaining Rugby Championship tests away in Argentina and South Africa, face an uphill task to finish with a winning record.
Lock Adam Coleman said the players were as frustrated as their coach at how mistakes were undoing much of their good work around the park.
“The overall feeling is that we turned the ball over too easy at set piece and at the ruck,” he said.
“The boys defended really well in our half, got a turnover but then we would knock it on in the next phase.
“It was a theme of the night, not holding the ball and cherishing the ball. If we could have held it for a couple of phases, who knows what could have happened.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Clare Fallon