The Wallabies and coach Robbie Deans will enjoy some momentum leading in to the next international test match against the Welsh. After making up for a disgraceful performance against the Scots, it was important that the best be put on show in the first up match against the reigning Six Nations title holders.
It has to be said that Wales were a little disappointing. Australia’s strong play aside, the normally powerful and direct Welsh seemed well and truly rudderless at times.
Northern Hemisphere teams often learn the hard way that the style of play down under is based on fast paced, attacking rugby, rather than structure and rigidity. Defensive strategies are designed with this in mind. The Australian’s backline reacted quicker, shutting down their opposites effectively as a result.
But the Welsh are one Northern Hemisphere team capable of playing (and enjoying) the open, point scoring oriented southern hemisphere brand of footy. As touring sides spend more time together, they’re able to gel and work together more, so look for them to make improvements of their own. The first up loss will likely have done a lot to make them a tighter, more committed unit.
The Australians are looking to an unchanged side for their next match, which makes a lot of sense. Dean’s squad looked like a well drilled unit last weekend. Key players such as Will Genia, and David Pocock will be better for the run too, becoming familiar and confident once more with the players around them. Drinking incidents have unfortunately come to light yet again with the Australians, but if there is a silver lining to that issue, it’s that they’ve had, and dealt with, them in the past. Hopefully it hasn’t hindered their preparation.
Wales will be expected to go into this match with an ‘absolutely must win’ attitude. To come down under and drop two in a row, as well as the series to the Australians will make for a foul tasting dessert after the high of their Six Nations victory. Expect them to come out firing, and putting more pressure on key players – particularly Genia. Sam Warburton must play out of his skin this week if they have any real chance of keeping this series alive.
There’s also the obvious, and unfortunate situation of the Wales team coach Warren Gatland being unavailable due to a fall from a ladder while holidaying in New Zealand. Gatland is a huge part of Wales recent success, if not THE reason behind it. It’s incredibly disappointing as the time available to turn things around once he does arrive will be minimal. Ultimately though, the responsibility falls on the players to win. Last year’s Rugby World Cup showed that this team has more than enough skills and belief to foot it with the best in the world.
Predicting the outcome for this one is tough. Wales should come out with more creative, effective attacking plays in this match. Expect the Australians to look sharper, and approach the game with a more direct plan now that they’ve had a taste of the opposition.
Australia at home after a win like last week will be hard to topple. They turned the Scottish disaster into a motivator, and were deserved winners last weekend. Wales should hit back, but it’ll take a lot of heart, and some outstanding effort up front for them to do so.