Ireland 26-23 Australia
Wallabies showing their steel, says Cheika
November 23, 2014
Ireland 26-23 Australia (video available in Australia only)
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Wallabies coach Michael Cheika believes Australia's maligned forwards are changing some perceptions in Europe but others are still holding them back. The Wallabies suffered the second defeat of their European tour, losing 26-23 to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday despite score three tries to two.

For the most part Australia matched it with the Irish up front and were able to limit the effectiveness of the rolling maul that has helped carry Europe's top-ranked nation to seven straight wins.

Cheika believes European teams may see Australia as vulnerable physically but recent weeks had shown they weren't.

"I think they [Ireland] probably thought when they carried ball they could outmuscle as a bit," Cheika said. "I think most teams think they can outmuscle us there so it's up to us to harden right up make sure we belie that image that there is of us. I'm not sure what that image is there but I think in the last few games we've really fronted up physically."

However Cheika believes the Wallabies are still paying the price of an unfair perception in the eyes of referees. He was critical of elements of referee Glen Jackson's performance, claiming a perception of the visitors' set piece played a significant part.

"I was really disappointed with a couple of calls. The winning penalty call, when we counter-rucked, I was disappointed in that and a couple of the scrum ones were really decisive," Cheika said. "We've somehow got to shed that tag.

"We had a penalty try against Wales in our first game and we had maybe one or two poor scrums against the French but, on the whole, our scrum has been quite good. I thought it was quite good today and I didn't think it got the pay it deserved."

Australia need to avoid defeat against England at Twickenham next week to prevent their worst European tour performance in nine years. Skipper Michael Hooper said the improvement shown from last week's 29-26 loss to Paris meant Australia could end their tour on a high against their 2015 World Cup group rivals.

"After a loss like that you're in a better place because you feel like you went out there and did some of the things we talked about doing, unlike last week," Hooper said. "We moved on and improved this week and I definitely think we can go forward again next week."

Wallabies half-back Nick Phipps runs away for a try © Getty Images
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