Wales seek parity with the Wallabies
June 14, 2012
The Wallabies edged past Wales last weekend to ease the pressure on Robbie Deans © Getty Images
Australia will look to tie up the series win when they meet Wales in Melbourne on Saturday.
The Wallabies re-found some form when they hosted Wales in Brisbane last weekend just days after they fell at home to Scotland in a dire 9-6 affair. Mini magician Will Genia was at the forefront of their win against Wales as he caused havoc in the opposition's defence with a series of sniping runs with one ending up in a superb try.
But Wales will take heart from their win over the Brumbies midweek. James Hook steered them to victory with a measured performance and they will hope for more of the same come Saturday. And Wales have also received a boost from their stricken coach Warren Gatland. He flew into Melbourne on Thursday and will provide some vital input in their final couple of training sessions before Saturday's match.
This was a Test series that was labelled as Wales' greatest hope of a victory on southern hemisphere soil for the past few years, but with their last triumph coming back in 1969, they will hope that they have enough in the tank to surprise the Wallabies and tee up a series decider next week in Sydney.
Australia - Player to Watch: Will Genia is probably the inform scrum-half in world rugby. He was phenomenal against Wales last weekend and they will have to keep a close eye on him come Saturday if they are to stand a chance of winning.
Australia - Team News: Australia have kept the faith with the same XV that defeated Wales last weekend in a move that means Kurtley Beale will have to wait to pull on the green and gold of Australia a while longer. Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu was an injury doubt going into the match but he has done enough to prove his fitness and starts at tight-head.
Wales - Player to Watch: Ashley Beck is one of Wales' most promising talents. If given the ball on the front-foot, then Beck has the ability to get across the gain line and offload to the pace men on the flanks.
Wales - Team News: Wales have made four changes to the side that lost to the Wallabies with Ryan Jones starting at No.8 in place of the injured Toby Faletau. Elsewhere, Alun Wyn Jones replaces lock Luke Charteris, hooker Matthew Rees comes in for Ken Owens and Ashley Beck will make his first start at centre in place of Scott Williams. Charteris and Williams, who needed stitches to a mouth wound midway through the second half on Saturday, both drop down to the bench.
Key Battle: Scott Higginbotham made some good yards last weekend for the Wallabies with Wycliff Palu alongside him. Ryan Jones and Dan Lydiate will have to do their best to contain their rampaging runs to help put their side in the ascendancy.
Trivia: This is the second time Wales have played at the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne with the first being their win over Canada back in the pool stages of the 2003 World Cup.
Stats: Gethin Jenkins will go joint top with Gareth Thomas for Wales appearances against the Wallabies on Saturday. The pair will have both played ten Tests come full-time on Saturday with Shane Williams next in line on eight.
"After the first Test Australia are obviously in the ascendancy, but the tour is not over by any means and we have all to play for on Saturday." - Wales' Rob Howley
Prediction: Wales will equal the series with a narrow victory on Saturday
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September