Wallabies Spring Tour Finale

Photo: AFP/theaustralian.com.au
David Pocock is set to make his long-awaited return to the Wallabies. Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au/AFP
How the Wallabies view this Spring Tour could well come down to how Sunday morning’s (AEDT) Test against Wales pans out. A thrashing by France, a gusty win against England, and scraping over the line against Italy isn’t exactly a pass mark, just yet, but an eighth consecutive win over Wales would relieve some pressure on Robbie Deans for the meantime. Incidentally, the last time the Red Dragons beat Australia was in Deans’ first year of coaching the Wallabies back in 2008.

Deans will come up against another New Zealand expat in Warren Gatland. The Welsh mentor at least has his troops playing some inventive rugby, as evidenced by the 13-man lineout against the All Blacks last week which led to his team’s first try. Wales spurned a few penalty goal opportunities early on to attack the All Blacks’ line, and although the 33-10 scoreline isn’t flattering, the Red Dragons did throw plenty at the world’s best international team.

Wales has an abysmal record against Australia of late, but of the seven straight losses to the Wallabies, four have been by six points or less . The three-Test tour earlier this year produced some tight struggles, with Australia winning 27-19 in Brisbane, 25-23 in Melbourne and 20-19 in Sydney. Australia led at halftime in all three of those matches.

The home side seems to have regressed from the middle of the year, though, going down in consecutive Tests to Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand. That makes it six Test losses in a row, and the Welsh are clearly struggling to match the pace and intensity of Southern Hemisphere teams.

Australia should have world-class flanker David Pocock available for selection for the first time since the first Bledisloe Cup Test in August. Pocock strained a calf muscle prior to the England Test a fortnight back, and is likely to start on the bench with the impressive Michael Hooper retaining his spot in the starting XV. The only likely change to the backline is Nick Phipps coming in at halfback for Brett Sheehan who suffered an ankle injury against Italy. 

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