TIME TO PUT THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Wales out to banish Australia demons: Unbeatable big-match coverage
IT’S been a decade since Wales’s last win over Australia, but plenty of people are saying this weekend presents a big opportunity to end that dismal sequence.
But how do the head-to-heads stack up?
We take a look...
LEIGH HALFPENNY 7 V DANE HAYLETT-PETTY 7
Halfpenny came up with a strong performance to launch his international season, reading play well from the back against Scotland, making important tackles and kicking his goals.
He also tried to contribute with ball in hand.
He will probably never satisfy everyone with what he offers going forward, but it isn’t because of any lack of effort.
Haylett-Petty has played Test rugby on the wing and is quick and dangerous, though he occasionally allows himself to be turned over. He prefers to play at No. 15 and Michael Cheika has obliged him on that score.
GEORGE NORTH 8 V ISRAEL FOLAU 8
It is hard to recall George North having anything less than a strong game this season.
He is thriving after his return to Welsh rugby and he has made a mid-career leap forward with his game, making a big contribution to defensive duties, tackling soundly and competing for turnovers, while attacking with his usual purpose.
The man wearing No. 14 for Australia?
Good Folau is capable of leaping to extraordinary heights for high balls and counter-attacking with pace and stardust.
Bad Folau throws out risky passes and misses tackles.
What’s it to be this time?
JONATHAN DAVIES 8 V SAMU KEREVI 7
Jonathan Davies has developed into a formidable centre who is as safe in defence as he is imposing in attack. He runs good lines and if anyone wants to know about his hand-off, well, they need only ask Huw Jones after the Scot was shoved aside ahead of Davies crossing for his try last weekend.
Kerevi made a startling impact off the bench against New Zealand last month, but he does have the occasional bad day in defence.
HADLEIGH PARKES 7 V KURTLEY BEALE 8
We are still trying to work out who that chap was who missed four tackles against Scotland.
It didn’t much resemble Parkes, who had previously been so reliable in a Wales jersey.
Warren Gatland will be hoping it was an off day and the New Zealandborn inside centre returns to the form he showed when bursting on the Test scene last term, making good decisions and few mistakes.
Beale can be vulnerable in defence, but in attack he is outstanding, with creativity to spare.
JOSH ADAMS 6 V SEFA NAIVALU 6
Adams is still learning the ropes in Test rugby, though Warren Gatland thinks highly enough of him to propel him into the starting line-up ahead of Liam Williams. Two fine displays on tour in the summer explain the coach’s confidence in the Worcester Warrior, who has a happy knack of scoring tries.
Naivalu is devastatingly quick, a 10.5secs man over 100 metres.
But, like Adams, he is a relative apprentice at this level.
GARETH ANSCOMBE 7 V BERNARD FOLEY 8
Anscombe finished the match against Scotland in credit with his attacking play, playing flat and setting up two tries.
But his kicking could have been better and it will need to be against Australia because they have backs capable of punishing any loose work with the boot.
Foley is a class act who has a sharp rugby brain and executes plays well.
But have so many beatings at the hands of the All Blacks dimmed his confidence? Wales will hope so, but there are no guarantees.
GARETH DAVIES 6 V WILL GENIA 7
Davies on top of his game is as dangerous as pretty much any No.9.
He outplayed England scrum-half Ben Youngs when the Scarlets faced Leicester last month, alert to opportunities and with pace and creativity to hurt defences.
But his game control remains an issue and his box-kicking wasn’t great against Scotland.
Genia has vast experience and a good track record against Wales, seeing him pick up a number of man-of-the-match awards. That said, the 30-year-old was uncharacteristically quiet in his last Test outing, missing almost as many tackles as he made.
NICKY SMITH 6 V SCOTT SIO 6
Smith is close to a seven given his work around the field. The Osprey is excellent at the breakdown, defends well and has developed a carrying technique that sees him twist away from would-be tacklers. He is still maturing as a scrummager, but is a player who is on the up.
Sio was excellent at the 2015 World Cup but has been sidelined by injury and, while he carried well against New Zealand last time out, the Wallaby scrum was beaten hands down.
KEN OWENS 8 V TOLU LATU 6
Owens is playing some excellent rugby and helped lead the way against Scotland with a series of abrasive contributions: he carries hard, makes his tackles and is one of the side’s leaders, a start-up player.
His opposite number is a man with a disciplinary problem after yellow cards in his last two games, once of which saw him clock Codie Taylor in the face. Latu was dropped clean out of the squad three months ago after New Zealand picked off six of his throws en route to a 38-13 victory. He is explosive, but not everything is positive.
TOMAS FRANCIS 6 V ALLAN ALLALATOA 6
Warren Gatland could have opted for a newer No.3 model that comes with a few bells and whistles in the shape of Dillon Lewis. Instead, he has turned to the tried and tested Francis, many miles on the clock, reliable and doesn’t break down often.
To his credit, the Exeter Chief showed last season there’s more to his game than just scrummaging.
The big man can also turn opposition ball over.
Allalatoa suffered at the hands of Joe Moody in the scrums in Yokohama.
ADAM BEARD 6 V IZACK RODDA 6
It’s a big game for Beard, another young player Gatland has rewarded for his bright form on tour.
The 6ft 8in lock has been brought in not least for his commanding height, with the Wallabies boasting two second-row giants. The match will tell the coaches whether the Osprey is ready for this grade of rugby.
Rodda is well thought of in Australia and has 14 caps at the age of 22.
ALUN WYN JONES 9 V ADAM COLEMAN 7
Jones is arguably Wales’ greatest lock and at 33 he is still going strong, benefiting from being lightly played at the Ospreys. He has been to the fore whenever he has taken the field for his region this term, as he was for the national team against Scotland.
He has pretty much seen it all and done it all in the Test game and is a
warrior who galvanises those around him.
Coleman has nowhere near the same experience, but he caught the eye when Australia won in Cardiff in 2016, carrying 14 times and putting in the same number of tackles. He is regarded as the enforcer in the Wallaby side, but he also contributes skilful touches.
But Wales will have noted that Australia had the worstperforming line-out in this year’s Rugby Championship, with only a 78.2 success rate.
DAN LYDIATE 7 V JACK DEMPSEY 6
Lydiate turned back the clock against Scotland with an outstanding defensive display and a hard-working effort in other areas.
He has the physicality to make a mark and the experience to stand him in good stead whatever Australia dish up.
The Wallabies have been struggling to settle on a blindside flanker since Scott Fardy’s last Test outing, two years ago. The highly promising Dempsey had a superb game against New Zealand in 2017 and is quick and capable in attack, but he missed 11 months through injury thereafter and is still working his way back on the Test scene.
ROSS MORIARTY 7 V DAVID POCOCK 9
Moriarty has a prodigious work-rate that’s seen him contribute more than 100 tackles during his past five Tests. He isn’t renowned for winning turnovers but he carries strongly and is a physical specimen who will never take a backward step.
His challenge is to front up against a man who has been one of the best players in the world for the past decade.
David Pocock could probably take honey off a bear without the said animal knowing a single thing about it.
He is so good at the breakdown he regularly competed on equal terms with Richie McCaw.
Stop him going about his work and Wales will go a long way to stopping Australia.
JUSTIN TIPURIC 8 V MICHAEL HOOPER 8
Two sevens of the highest quality.
Hooper is seriously durable, a player who once put together more than 100 consecutive appearances, including Tests. He is a menace at the breakdown, offers himself in attack and regularly covers more than 5.5 miles during games.
But he will be up against another workaholic in Tipuric – a player whose graft is complemented by rare skills.
He is in outstanding form and will aim to back up his man-ofthe-match display against Scotland.
A breakdown duel with Hooper and Pocock demands that others rally to the cause. But Tipuric will do his bit.
> Wales will have to stop Aussie star David Pocock having a ball in the loose
> Scotland’s Huw Jones feels the full force of a classic Jonathan Davies hand-off... Wales will be delighted to see the Scarlets man hitting top form once again