This is what the Welsh think – a poll from the South Wales Echo:
Do you think Wales can defeat the Wallabies on Saturday?
Yes, they’ve got the ability 85.0%
No, it’s too big an ask 7.4%
It’s too close to call 7.7%
The Welsh can sniff it again. The vulnerability of this seemingly disparate Wallaby touring side, inconsistent and incontinent (well, pissing in the wind anyway) with a lack of game day direction.
I’m not sure how its going to turn out on Saturday and am a bit loathe to predict it but Wales are in the box seat having defeated the Wallabies last year (as the only Southern Hemisphere scalp) and, unlike their opponents, running into some good form.
The boyos gave a very good account of themselves against the No 1 ranked side in the world a few weeks back. If you remember, Wales ran the ball will nilly at the All Blacks after winning the lions share of possession.
They didn’t get over the tryline but stretched the All Black defence in the process. The All Blacks countered and won by Dan Carter and mates putting boot to ball, competently.
Wales defeated Argentina last week with a dominant lineout and more than parity in the scrums (a known Puma strength) with the added benefit of loads of technical penalties. It was as if Le Fuse was now a fixture in the Argie pack – El Fuse!
Although a relatively dour game (where have you heard that before) the Welsh were effective at the breakdown and possessed a prevalent maul.
In fact, I reckon there’s going to be loads of mauling by the boyos on Saturday as one of their main attacking weapons and Peel is a box kick exponent. That’ll no doubt put a bit of pressure on our vulnerable young Wobbly friends.
They do have a propensity to run the ball in the right conditions and last year won the Six Nations on the back of some expansive play. The weather used to be a factor in that; however, one would assume the roof will be closed as it’s going to be raining all week.
Fortunately, new turf has been laid at the Millenium Stadium since the appalling condition it was in for the Wales v New Zealand match. In the ten years its been in operation the Stadium has been re-turfed 25 times; so they have some issues with it.
Looking at their team, its loaded with experience. A dozen of their frontline players are British & Irish Lions tourists. Jamie Roberts is a devastating runner in the centres and with Tom Shanklin is close to being on a par with the Irish pairing. Unfortunately Shanklin is still out with a broken nose so young Jonathan Davies gets another chance.
Stephen Jones is an excellent tactical and goal kicker who really knows how to run a game. He also is prepared to take on the defence.
What can you say about Shane Williams, the best finisher in the business. His form dropped away with the Lions but its back, he scored two tries in last week’s Argentina fixture. Another of a strong back three, fullback Hook is mercurial but I wouldn’t be kicking the pill to him as he’ll territorially make you pay.
Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Ryan Jones make up a formidable attacking lineout combination who will exploit any weaknesses, and we’ve seen plenty of that with the Wallabies.
They have a strong scrummaging forward unit, especially British Lions Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees, with Martin Williams, Andy Powell and Ryan Jones a well balanced backrow combo and arguably the best loose forward team in the Six Nations.
Unlike the box of chocolates, with Wales I think you know what you’re going to get.
WALES: James Hook; Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Shane Williams; Stephen Jones, Dwayne Peel; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Paul James, Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Andy Powell, Martyn Williams, Ryan Jones (Captain)
Replacements: Huw Bennett, Duncan Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Dan Lydiate, Martin Roberts, Andrew Bishop, Tom James