Tuesday , December 7 2021

LIVE: Wallabies rocked by red card for head clash

Beat Australia this morning (4.30am AEDT) and Wayne Pivac will deem Wales’ autumn rugby series a success.

In order, New Zealand mastered the Welsh 54-16, South Africa edged them 23-18, and they were fortunate to beat Fiji 38-23.

This weekend they go after a first hat trick against the Wallabies since 1975.

The Six Nations holders started the campaign without Lions such as George North, Justin Tipuric, Leigh Halfpenny and Josh Navidi.

Then during the series they lost more Lions including captain Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Taulupe Faletau and Ross Moriarty.

Other Lions have struggled to get on the field.

Liam Williams finally came right following an appendectomy, prop Wyn Jones answered a wake-up call to get fit after being dropped, and Josh Adams overcame a calf issue.

From 15 to 20 front line players have been unavailable for each game but coach Pivac has kept calm and carried on.

He has gone through 39 players, three captains, and is scraping the bottom of the tank in some positions.

At the same time, the squad has never been so deep.

Asked to rate the campaign, Pivac was upbeat.

“We’ve lost senior guys which would hurt any side. But guys have come in and done well.

“The forward pack are probably the most damaged in terms of injuries but they’ve shown up well against the (South Africa) world champions in difficult conditions. I think a win would make it successful.”

Australian tightheads Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa, have been rushed back into the team after concussions against Scotland forced them to miss the 32-15 loss to England last weekend.

Their return has allowed James Slipper to move back to loosehead where he’s more comfortable.

Australia has also been dealing with its own injuries, its main loss being captain Michael Hooper to a foot sprain.

The Wallabies came to Britain riding a five match winning streak, but have been brought to earth by defeats to Scotland and England.

Much of the blame is self inflicted.

They conceded 14 penalties vs Scotland and 18 vs England, many unnecessarily.

More of the same in Cardiff will be gleefully accepted by an expert goalkicker such as Dan Biggar.

Biggar came off the bench to kick the winning penalty in 2018, and launched Wales to their pool win at the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a dropped goal and try saving tackle.

“If we let guys like Dan Biggar into the game, with his kicking, through penalties and ill discipline,” Wallabies back Andrew Kellaway warned, “we’re going to be on the back foot.”

Wales: Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Uilisi Halaholo, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Ellis Jenkins (captain), Seb Davies, Adam Beard, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones

Reserves: Elliot Dee, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Ben Carter, Christ Tshiunza, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Johnny McNicholl

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Nic White; Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, Rob Leota, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Taniela Tupou, Tolu Latu, James Slipper (captain)

Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Will Skelton, Lachlan Swinton, Tate McDermott, Lalakai Foketi, Tom Wright

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