Hooper rues spurned penalties, Cheika seeks positives

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Australia skipper Michael Hooper admits ruing twice spurning kickable penalties to go for attacking line-outs, as under-fire coach Michael Cheika sought out the positives after the team’s narrow 9-6 defeat by Wales.

A tough encounter at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday saw the Wallabies suffer their eighth loss of the year.

But fly-half Bernard Foley was twice ordered to kick for touch in place of going for the posts early in the second half, with the game delicately poised at 3-3.

Instead of garnering a try from the attacking line-outs, the Australians came away with nothing after a knock-on and an overthrow respectively.

“If I had my time again I’d have gone for the shot, yes,” said Hooper after his first loss to the Welsh in 10 appearances, a run that coincided with Wales’ 13-match losing streak over 10 years to Australia.

“But I backed our guys to get the try and keep the foot on.

“Probably my reading of the game there was amiss because it was going to come down to penalties in the end. I should have gone for goal.”

Cheika has enjoyed an indifferent season as coach of the Wallabies, who won just two of their six Rugby Championship matches and, now with just three wins from 11 Tests this season, have their win percentage their lowest for a calendar year since 1974.

“Our defence was excellent and our energy and effort around the game was really good,” Cheika said.

“But we released the build up of pressure we had from our defence by either infringing or losing ball in the line-out.”

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