Less penalties the key for Wallabies

Darren Walton
Coach Michael Cheika says he's backing the Wallabies to win the penalty count this weekend

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is challenging his troops to win the potentially decisive penalty count in Saturday night's series-deciding showdown with Ireland in Sydney.

The most penalised side in world rugby in 2017, the Wallabies have again paid the price for their ill-discipline during a gripping a series with the Six Nations champions.

Despite running in five tries to two, the tourists have profited through six penalty goals to Australia's none, with sharpshooter Jonny Sexton booting Ireland to a 26-21 series leveller in Melbourne last Saturday.

The Wallabies also out-scored England on the try front in 2016 only to suffer a first-ever 3-0 series defeat on home soil after allowing Owen Farrell to knock over a whopping 15 penalties in the three matches.

Cheika, though, insists his class of 2018 is significantly more disciplined and is confident the Wallabies can reverse a 15-12 lost penalty count from Melbourne.

"I look back to that England series, it was more I think just reckless indiscipline," Cheika said on Thursday.

"Last week we made a couple of poor reads. About three of those penalties came from the knockdown of the ball from bad reads - not that you want to go in there and knock the ball down.

"So get set a bit earlier in D (defence) and get that sorted out and I'm backing us to win the penalty count this week.

"Winning the penalty count this week would be a real good lead-in to us having more field position, more ball to try and put pressure on the opposition."

Cheika said the Wallabies were making a concerted effort to concede less penalties, both with more accuracy on the field and understanding better what the referees were looking for.

His wants controlled aggression, while demanding his forwards lay the platform up front.

"At the end of the day, the same sort of principles apply - win the physical battle, work harder than the opposition, try to reduce the penalties as much as possible and you're in the game with a big opportunity," Cheika said.

"Then it's about how prepared you are to go and attack and we're definitely a team that's prepared to go and attack."