Wales eye vital consolation win
June 21, 2012
Mike Harris put the brakes on Wales last weekend © Getty Images
The series is gone, but the job is not finished for Wales as they prepare to take on Australia in Sydney on Saturday.
The tourists fell to a late Mike Harris penalty in Melbourne last weekend, with a historic, series-levelling victory just seconds away. Now they must refocus and procure a first win down under since 1969.
With the Rugby World Cup draw set to take place at the end of the year and Wales currently in the all-important fourth seeding place, victory is an absolute must this weekend, as England are breathing down their neck in the rankings race.
Australia - Player to Watch: Kurtley Beale has had a rough 10 days, but his return to the starting line-up gives Australia a whole new look as a counter-attacking force.
Australia - Team News: Beale's return means a shift to the wing for Adam Ashley-Cooper, in place of Cooper Vuna, while Sitaleki Timani takes over from Rob Simmons in the second-row. Mike Harris' reward for winning the game last weekend is to be dropped from the 22, with Beale able to cover fly-half and Anthony Fainga'a among the replacements as three-quarter back-up.
Wales - Player to Watch: Rhys Priestland must perform up to the ability that he is capable of. He has struggled in the past two games and with James Hook breathing down his neck, Priestland needs a big game.
Wales - Team News: Wales are unchanged from the side that lost to the Wallabies last weekend. There is one change on the bench with Richard Hibbard losing his spot to Ken Owens.
Key Battle: Question marks have been raised over the form of skipper Sam Warburton. Justin Tipuric is playing well and Warburton needs a big game against the Wallabies' David Pocock. Expect firewords at openside.
Trivia: Kurtley Beale will go full circle this weekend to make his comeback, having made his Test bow against Wales in 2009.
Stats: Wales have lost their last five meetings with the Wallabies - all of them by single-digit margins.
"If anything, they will be even more dangerous because the circumstance will unshackle them. While they can no longer win the series, they can still achieve something only one other Welsh team has ever achieved by winning in Australia." - Australia boss Robbie Deans.
"We are an honest group and we are used to having some tough analysis sessions after a game. We know that if we've done something wrong it is going to be highlighted and I've been in that situation before - getting rollickings after games and getting bans." - Wales lock Bradley Davies.
Prediction: Wales will save some face with a narrow win
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