Cheika finds positives in 'disappointing' Wallabies draw
A promising new Wallabies career was born for hooker Jordan Uelese in Perth where coach Michael Cheika was again forced to lament the inconsistencies that waste the best moments from his side.
Cheika could enthuse about the broad-shouldered 20-year-old being anything but shy in his Test debut against the vaunted Springboks and another fine display from midfield standout Kurtley Beale who was named man of the match.
In too many other areas, Cheika saw concentration flaws turn into decisive moments that allowed the South Africans to wrestle back a 20-10 deficit for a 23-all draw.
"Kurtley has been unbelievable since he's been back (from a hamstring injury)...he's killed it, carved it up, and he's bitterly disappointed in that dressing room,” Cheika said.
"We all need that same attitude of wanting it a lot and staying at it.”
Cheika said the South Africans got too much free rein with surging runs around the ruck while the scrum and lineout work was too variable in quality.
"They came through the middle of the ruck...you can get caught there once but not three or four times,” Cheika said.
"Having some very good ones and some very poor ones hurt us in the scrums and lineouts and we paid the penalty for it at different times.
"There are some really clear things about improving the speed of our lineout that will take us back to the right level straight away because it has been a good area for us until this.”
The Wallabies defended strongly all game and Michael Hooper and Israel Folau scrambled back to make try-saving tackles in the second half.
Uelese was on far earlier than expected when top hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau copped a poke in the eye and required a concussion test on the sidelines before the 20-minute mark.
"Taf is not going to want to hear this but I was pumped the other guy was going to get a run,” Cheika said of the early eight-minute cameo.
"What an opportunity early on when not expecting it and the nerves are probably a bit less.
"He's a talent. I know one lineout throw went sideways but he threw a good one 5m out, had a run, had a good first scrum and got into it.
"He hasn't started a game of Super Rugby and he's come in for 20 minutes of international footy.”
Springboks coach Allister Coetzee expressed his disappointment: "We're really not happy with the result...I don't think any Springboks side is ever happy with a draw.”
"To come back from 20-10 down showed character and I am happy with that as well as the way we adapted to the conditions in the second half with kicks in behind and pressuring with our chase line,” Coetzee said..
"We're growing as a team facing different challenges because that's three continents in 10 days.
"That was a proper Test match with all the physicality and the set piece battle.”
Springboks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit made 63m from his five runs as the chief thorn running through the middle of the ruck while centre Jesse Kriel's direct running was another asset.