Wales told to keep Wallabies score to less than 18 points
Shaun Edwards has set the Welsh side a target of restricting Australia to fewer than 18 points in order to stay in the three-match series by squaring things up in Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium today.
The Wallabies scored three tries – as many as Wales had conceded in five games in their Grand Slam campaign – in their 27-19 win in the first Test in Brisbane and defence coach Edwards wants to cut back on the points his team conceded last weekend.
“We are playing against a Tri Nations team and in the professional era we have yet to beat a Tri Nations team away from home,” said Edwards. “So, if you look at the history of it, it is obviously a huge challenge, but we are just looking at the here and now and the things we have to change and improve on from last week.
“We are going to get up to the pace of the game a bit more. Sam Warburton will have a little bit more confidence under his belt having played his first game in 11 weeks and it should be a little bit cooler in Melbourne than it was in Brisbane.
“It is difficult to keep a Tri Nations team to less than 20 points, but if we can keep them between 15-18 we will be in with a chance of winning the game.”
Caretaker coach Rob Howley has made four changes to his side from the first Test, bringing in 181 caps into the pack in the shape of Lions Test stars Matthew Rees, Alun Wyn Jones and Ryan Jones, while Australia have given a vote of confidence to the team that triumphed last weekend. “One of the things we have to improve on is our field position and we have to win the collisions in and around the breakdown area, which we had trouble in doing in the first half last week,” admitted Edwards. “We spent between 6-7 minutes in our own 22 and only 2.5 in theirs. Against a team as good as Australia in offence you don’t want to be chalking up statistics like that.
“It was a pretty special performance from Will Genia last week and, hopefully, we’ll do a better job on him this week. We need to defend stronger around the rucks and can’t allow him to rule the roost like last week.”
Australia: A Ashley-Cooper; C Vuna, R Horne, P McCabe, D Ioane; B Barnes, W Genia; B Robinson, T Polota Nau, S Kepu, R Simmons, N Sharpe, S Higginbotham, D Pocock (capt), W Palu. Subs: S Moore, B Alexander, D Dennis, M Hooper, N White, A Fainga’a, M Harris.
Wales: L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), A Beck (Ospreys), G North (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), R Jones (Ospreys). Subs: R Hibbard (Ospreys), P James (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Tipuric (Ospreys), R Webb (Ospreys), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).
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