Head-to-head... how Wales mea­sure up against Wal­la­bies

South Wales Evening Post - - RUGBY - MARK OR­DERS @Marko­rders1• 01792 545556 mark.or­ders@me­di­awales.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.

Pic­ture: Huw Evans Agency

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

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