Wales vs Australia Sunday 4:15am at Principality Stadium, Cardiff
The Wallabies begin the European leg of their spring tour with a trip to Millennium stadium in Cardiff to face the might of the Welsh dragon.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is expected to welcome back gun pivots Will Genia and Bernard Foley into the halves. This will push Nick Phipps back to the bench, whilst Reece Hodge is expected to shift back to the wing with Wallabies staff reportedly looking to stick with the powerful Fijian centre paring of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kurindrani who combined for 5 tries a piece last week in Japan. The forward pack will remain unchanged with the return of Lukhan Tui from a hamstring injury pushed back another week.
With Welsh veteran Jamie Roberts not named in Gatland’s spring squad, Owen Williams is expected to partner Johnathan Davies in the centres in a shift away from the ball-crashing midfield Wales have favoured under their NZ born coach. The big news this week is the race against the clock for Lions pair Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb who remain 50-50 chances of lining up at Millennium stadium on Sunday morning (AEDT).
Last time they met
5th November 2016 – Australia 32 – 8 Wales
Stat that matters
Australia have had the wood on their Welsh counterparts in recent times defeating them on each of the last 12 occasions, dating right back to 2008. Traditionally close affairs, 11 of those 12 clashes have been decided by 9 points or fewer, the only exception was the corresponding clash last year in which Bernard Foley and Adam Coleman put on absolute clinic to ensure a thumping 32-8 Wallabies victory.
Alan Wyn-Jones vs Adam Coleman
Lions skipper Alan Wyn-Jones will be looking to continue the form of the June Lions Series when he leads a young Welsh pack into battle in Cardiff. The veteran is a master at set piece time and the Wolf feels if there is one aspect that the Wales can really get some ascendency it will be at scrum and line out time. Adam Coleman is the man in charge of ensuring that doesn’t happen. It was only this time last year that the Tasmanian born second rower came of age with a dominant performance against Wales on the 2016 spring tour. He is now arguably the Wallabies most important player, running the line outs and providing much needed grunt up front.
The Wallabies were impressive last week in Yokohama scoring some scintillating tries against the Japanese to continue their 7 match unbeaten run. It is set to be Wales’ first proper test match since the six nations but the core of the squad played a part in the Lions’ historic drawn series in New Zealand so you expect will come in full of confidence.
How it’s shaping
Make no mistake this is a very difficult first assignment for Michael Cheika’s men. Wales under Warren Gatland are a different beast to the side that was trounced 12 months ago, particularly with big names Leigh Halfpenny and Johnathan Davies returning. The Wolf is predicting a see-sawing encounter but with both Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton ruled out through injury, Michael Hooper and Sean McMahon will be able to run riot and will ultimately prove the difference for the Wallabies in an entertaining affair on the banks of the River Taff.
Wallabies by 2
Best bet: Australia WIN ($1.62) Value bet: First scoring play – Australia TRY ($5.00)