Friday 24 November 2017

Welsh fight to avoid autumn whitewash

Steve James

It is time for Wales to stand up. Today's match against Australia might just be their biggest since the World Cup semi-final against France last year.

Yes, it might actually be more significant than their Grand Slam decider last spring. It is not just that defeat would toss them out of the top eight in the IRB rankings, condemning them to tier three in Monday's 2015 World Cup draw.

It is more than that. Defeat would be their seventh on the trot. There was more intensity in the loss to New Zealand last weekend, but still the scoreline read 33-10. Add on the defeats by Argentina and Samoa and it truly has been an autumn of discontent.

The Grand Slammers could become the grand shams. Another false dawn might well be added to the roster.

Yes, injuries have been cruel, but what about Australia's problems? Only five players remain from the side that beat Wales last year.

As Welsh captain Sam Warburton said: "It has got to the stage where enough is enough." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Wales – L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, L Williams; R Priestland, M Phillips; G Jenkins, M Rees, S Andrews; L Reed, L Charteris; A Shingler, S Warburton, T Faletau. Reps: K Owens, R Bevington, S Lee, R Jones, J Tipuric, T Knoyle, D Biggar, S Williams.

Australia – B Barnes; N Cummins, A Ashley-Cooper, B Tapuai, D Mitchell; K Beale, N Phipps; B Robinson, T Polota Nau, B Alexander; K Douglas, N Sharpe (capt); S Higginbotham, D Pocock, W Palu. Reps: S Moore, J Slipper, S Kepu, D Dennis, M Hooper, B McKibbin, M Harris, D Ioane.

Ref – Wayne Barnes (England)

Wales v Australia,

Live, BBC 1, 2.30

Irish Independent

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