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End Of The Year Tours: Wales v Australia Preview
The Wallabies kick off their end of the year tour this Saturday against an extremely competitive Welsh outfit.
Wales and Australia will go head to head at the Principality Stadium this Saturday. Neither side has really shot the lights out this year, although, Wales did finish second in the Six Nations and gave a decent account of themselves during their June tour of New Zealand, despite going down 3-0 to the All Blacks. Like Wales, Australia have had a bit of a sub-par season. While they did manage a second place finish in the Rugby Championship, they were whitewashed in their home June series against England.
Wales v Australia | Saturday 5 November | Principality Stadium | 16:30
To Win (80 Mins)
Wales 27/20 | Draw 20/1 | Australia 6/10
Wales (+3.5) 9/10 | Australia (-3.5) 9/10
Another year, another injury-ravaged season for the Welsh. The Dragons just don’t seem to have the rub of the green when it comes to injuries with stalwarts Leigh Halfpenny, Sam Warburton, Liam Williams, Rhys Priestland, Rob Evans, and Jonathon Davies each spending a period of the year on the sidelines.
Thankfully for the Welsh, a whole host of these injured players are now fit to take to the field this weekend. The most integral of which is likely to be Lee Halfpenny. The Toulon fullback’s ability to place kick from 50 meters plus could be key to the Dragons hopes of beating the Wallabies.
Another two men who will have huge roles to play for the Welsh this coming weekend is Jamie Roberts and Jonathon Davies. The vastly experienced centre pairing will be chomping at the bit to have a run at an unsettled Wallaby midfield.
There is a bit of bad news for the Dragons as skipper Sam Warburton is still trying to regain fitness and will miss out. Flyhalf Dan Biggar is apparently the inside runner to take on the captaincy.
Michael Cheika’s men have endured a tough year. A 3-0 June series loss to England was followed up by a record home defeat to the all-conquering All Blacks. While there is no shame in going down to New Zealand as heavily as they did, the Wallabies will still be keen to atone for what has been a sub-par eight or so months. This will easier said than done, however, as the Welsh are extremely strong on their own patch.
While Cheika is yet to announce his starting XV, the Wallaby mentor has called up a few interesting prospects to his touring squad. One of which is Rugby League convert Marika Koroibete. The Fijian-born winger was sensational for the Melbourne Storm during the recently concluded National Rugby Championship. While he is by no means guaranteed a start, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an appearance off the bench.
One man who will take no part in this fixture is scrumhalf Will Genia. The former Queensland Red was one of Australia’s form players during the Rugby Championship. He misses out, however, as the game falls outside the IRB’s mandated international window and his French club Stade Francais have refused to sanction his release.
The Stats That Matter
The Wallabies have won the last six games between the two sides by less than 10 points with five of the last six contests being won by a margin of five points or less.
These games tend to see rather low combined total scores with four of the last six games seeing less than 40 points put on the board.
Verdict: Wales 27/20
They may have a poor record against the Australians but I reckon the Dragons will register a win this Saturday. Get on the home win before it shortens!