TIME TO PUT THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Wales out to ban­ish Aus­tralia demons: Un­beat­able big-match cov­er­age

Western Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MARK OR­DERS Rugby correspondent mark.or­ders@waleson­line.co.uk

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.

HUW EVANS AGENCY

> Wales will have to stop Aussie star David Po­cock hav­ing a ball in the loose

HUW EVANS AGENCY

> 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

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