OITA, Japan (Reuters) - Australia coach Michael Cheika showed a sidestep worthy of David Campese in his prime when declining to weigh in on the Wallabies’ high tackling after the problem resurfaced during the victory over Uruguay at the World Cup on Saturday.
Australia cruised to a seven-try 45-10 win at Oita Stadium to top Pool D and inch closer to the quarter-finals but their afternoon was marred by yellow cards to Adam Coleman and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto in the first half.
Captain Michael Hooper was also penalised for going high, which gave Uruguay an easy three points in front of the posts, while Kurtley Beale was later fortunate not to draw yellow for another awkward tackle.
“I think maybe we can talk about something else to be honest,” he said with a sigh, opting instead during the post-match media conference to focus on the penalty count, which went 12-5 against Australia.
“We’re just giving away too many penalties, full stop, no matter what it’s for, you can’t be winning the game by 45 and still losing the penalty count.
“I don’t know what the break-down for them was. Just those little things we definitely need to tidy up.”
Australia already had winger Reece Hodge suspended for three matches after he went high in a try-saving tackle against Fiji, a ban which infuriated Cheika.
The former Randwick enforcer Cheika was then further incensed when centre Samu Kerevi was penalised when his arm went high when fending off a tackler during the 29-25 Wales loss, a major turning point in the match.
His rants against the refereeing and World Rugby in general drew criticism in the lead-up to Uruguay, with some Australian media pundits saying they could backfire rather than fire up the team.
The Wallabies, wearing their green indigenous jersey for the first time at a World Cup, had their third slow start of the tournament against Uruguay, having struggled to get out of the blocks against Fiji in their opener and Wales.
The yellow cards held them to 19-3 at the break before they overpowered the Uruguayans with a second half featuring some sparkling running rugby.
“The one thing we need to be mindful of, I think, is we haven’t started games well,” said Cheika.
“Not that we haven’t played well. We’ve been a little less consistent at that part of the game. That’s something we need to address for sure.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Tony Lawrence