Key Clash Preview: Wales v Australia

Kurtley Beale vs Wales

Date: 21st October 2011
Time: 08:30 BST (20:30 NZST)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Wayne Barnes (ENG)


After last week’s agony, Wales have the opportunity to bounce back and end what has overall been a successful World Cup campaign, on a high. The very nature of that defeat to France makes it vitally important that they go and do themselves fully justice. Having perhaps been something of an inconvenience in past World Cup’s, the third-placed play-off has developed into a meaningful contest. This team owe it to themselves to finish with at least a bronze medal, as opposed to returning empty handed. Also any chance to take the scalp of one of the Tri-Nations teams should be relished. This is reflected in Warren Gatland opting to name the strongest Welsh team he can, and resist the chance to give fringe members of the squad a run out.


Other than a somewhat controversial quarter-final defeat of South Africa, it has in the main been a disappointing World Cup for the Wallabies. For all the pre-tournament hype, Robbie Deans’ side have largely flattered to deceive. Had they lived up to expectation and not slipped up to Ireland, they would have faced Wales in the quarters instead of the bronze medal match. With Robbie Deans’ coaching tenure under threat, defeat at Eden Park could potentially see him being shown the door. The New Zealander has made a number of changes from the side that lost out to the All Blacks, some forced through injury, and others to mix things up.

What To Expect:

The question is which of these two teams wants it’s the most. Losing at the semi-final stage of a tournament has the potential to bring with it a hangover, of the non-alcoholic variety. Australia’s back line are still the most exciting in the tournament, but Wales have demonstrated their ability to play some expansive all round rugby. On paper both sides are fairly well matched.

All Eyes On:

Although he is now likely to bring the curtain down on his career against the same opposition in December, this is the last notable game for Shane Williams in a Wales shirt. 56 tries in 85 tests, speak volumes for a player who will undoubtedly go down as one of the all time Welsh rugby greats.

Having missed out through injury against the All Blacks, Kurtley Beale has a point to prove for the Wallabies. Fortunately Beale is only 22 and will hopefully have a lot more World Cups to demonstrate the prodigious talent that he possesses. As Wales found out in the autumn last year, they can ill-afford to give the Australian full back much space.

Head to Head: Toby Faletau v David Pocock

A relative rookie in test rugby playing out of position, playing against one of the best players in world rugby. It hardly seems fair, but that is the massive task facing Faletau. The young back-rower has at least had some regional experience for the Newport Gwent Dragons’ but nothing will prepare him for having to fill the breach left by Sam Warburton. The breakdown has been massive in this World Cup, so Faletau will once again have to surpass expectations.

David Pocock didn’t have things his own way against New Zealand and Richie McCaw last weekend so he will have a point to prove to himself and the fans against Wales. His work at the breakdown is generally superb and if he can get the upper hand against the inexperienced Faletau then he will be able to provide decent and quick ball for his backs to utilise.

Last fixture: Wales 16-25 Australia, Millennium Stadium, 5th November 2010.

Weather Forecast: Fine, with light winds.

Prediction: Third place play offs or ‘Bronze medal matches’ at Rugby World Cups have traditionally followed little logic (see Argentina thumping France last year). As for Friday it would be foolish not to back Wales to win a narrow, but entertaining game. Wales by three points.

by Paul French

12 thoughts on “Key Clash Preview: Wales v Australia

  1. Can’t see Wales winning this – yes, the Wallaby scrum has been weakened by their front row losses, but with no Alun-Wyn Jones or Sam Warburton Wales don’t have a true leader in the back 5. Add to that, Australia’s backs look great – Berrick Barnes will be looking to take an opportunity to show how good he is, and Beale will be hungry to get back into the game. I reckon Australia to win by 10.

  2. Pretty balanced article I guess. Was SOOO nervous before the French game and devastated at the turn of events there. (In hindsight, disappointed though I am, we had the game and blew it ourselves – AND, sad though it makes me, Rolland was right IMHO) That said, time for the Aussies! My heart tells me we DESERVE it after the efforts thus far. However, the Wallabies are a v talented side and my head tells me the team selections will turn it the other way. Pessimistic perhaps but we need a specialist replacement 7, not a number 8 who’s brilliant, but too inexperienced for the likes of Pocock. Rooting for Wales but prepared for disappointment!

  3. This is actually a huge game for Wales, for all the great rugby they have played their only victory of note is over Ireland in the QF. If they are to be regarded as the best the NH has to offer they have to make a statement in this game. Personally I can’t see it happening the Aussie’s are due a big game and if their back line find some form they have too much skill for the Welsh to handle.

    Prediction: Aus to race to an early lead about 20-6 then take their foot off the gas, Wales to fight back but go down 15-27!

    1. I more or less agree with what Ben H and Welshman’s mind says. Sorry Welshman.
      Aus by about 10. However, if Wales do pull this off, they are worth every bit of their 3rd/4th. place ranking in the IRB rankings. But, on the flipside, if they don’t (yet another loss to another SH side), they are very much worth their 8th/9th place IRB ranking or whatever it will be if they lose. Aside from wrecking our “buzz” (Ireland) Wales haven’t really done anything in this tournament, yet again failing against France and SA. This coupled with them having the worst record of the traditional 5 home nations against SH teams doesn’t bode well. Or will they win?

  4. i think the ausies are there for the taking, faletau can make a name for himself he`s already shown he can be distructive at the breakdown, no7 is an important position no team would take only one 7 unless they had cover from another squad member
    wales 29 australia 21

  5. “Had they lived up to expectation and not slipped up to Ireland, they would have faced Wales in the quarters instead of the bronze medal match.”

    That’s a massive assumption. Part of me feels that Ireland were a bit more lax after fending off everyone in their group, like they were unstoppable, “the camp is buzzing” as O’Gara put it ….

    If Australia had “lived up to expectation” as you put it, they could have potentially ended up going out to Wales in the QF (if there were injuries), though I doubt it. It’s been a good campaign for Wales, but still, based on the back of a good Irish campaign rather than anything they did. The blew it against SA, they blew it against France (they had their chances) and I predict they’ll be beaten by Aus, unless there’s bad weather again like there was in the Ireland game. They’re a great side, but for me, this match will determine if they really are worthy to be in the last 4. But having said that, 4th. place overall is still outstanding.
    And you can’t say they don’t deserve it.

  6. The Wallabies know that they’ve disappointed. They need this to go home with a bit of pride.For all the talk I also think Wales believe they’ve achieved enough. Oz by 9.

    Hopefully the wallaby back line will play with some adventure for the first time since the Russian match.

  7. This is one of the weakest teams I’ve seen Australia display at International level. How they beat the Springboks (I’m still confused) really got me thinking that miracles exist. Because miracles don’t happen twice, the Aussies lost convincingly to the Blacks and will lose to Wales as well. You see, we might have a wonderful backline but without robust & strong forwards, the entire squad keeps being pushed backwards losing scrums & being put under pressure causing them to fall into handling errors as well. Australia also has no reliable kickers & none of the players possess that x-factor to make things happen. Verdict: Wales by 5 points.

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