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Wallabies v Wales Preview: Fiddler on the Roof

Wallabies v Wales Preview: Fiddler on the Roof

Open or closed, I doubt whether the roof at the Millennium Stadium is going to save the Wales from a potential defeat on Saturday night.

They can fiddle around with it all they like but I suspect the boyos are a chance of getting burnt either way.

I’d be more concerned about the pitch, which was only laid three weeks ago. They change the turf on average about twice a year so it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s stable or not.

Scrummaging will be a test on both the surface and the Wallabies. It’s likely the Welsh will use the scrum to attack our perceived weak underbelly.

The tight five will need to improve on last week’s effort if they are to repulse their opponents. It’s unrealistic to expect they’ll dominate in this area with Ben Alexander underdone and Ben Robinson under-performing.

Both teams have been named for the clash and there are no surprises in either team. As predicted by our own RugbyReg in yesterday’s groundbreaking G&GR Podcast, the Wallabies have made no changes to the starting side for this test.

The Welsh have been seriously weakened by injuries to their playing staff: Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Andy Powell (unavailable) and Ryan Jones are all out and depth is an issue.

The Wallabies should have a commanding lead in the loose with two world class flankers up against an inexperienced pair in Sam Warburton (7 caps) and Dan Lydiate (2 caps), after aging star Martyn Williams was surprisingly left out.

James Hook - dangerous runner from fullback

They’ve gone for muscle and bulk in the loosies, which includes the experienced Jonathan Thomas out of position at No 8, in an attempt to physically challenge Bam Pocock at the breakdown.

James Hook has been selected at fullback to cover for Byrne, a position not unfamiliar to him. There are indications that he may move into the centres later in the game. British and Irish Lions Stephen Jones and Mike Phillips are the halves pairing.

It’s great to see the human dynamo, Shane Williams, as dangerous as ever back on the wing and the dependable Tom Shanklin is a rock in the centres.

They’ve also got a British Lions front row in Gethin Jenkins, captain Matthew Rees and Hair Bear Adam Jones who’ll give the wobbly Wobblies front rankers a decent workout. Another Lion in lock Alun Wyn Jones will provide further grunt in the scrums.

Guess what? The weather’s been crappy all week as you’d expect in Cardiff at this time of year and a heavy track is anticipated. It’ll be raining, roof open probably.

The Welsh will be more than competitive in the set piece but it is their first international of the season. I’d expect they might run out of puff later in the match after they’re run all over the park – wet or not.

This is a match that we have the potential to win but the Wallabies have been so inconsistent over recent times that achieving a substantial result after last week’s major effort will be their test.

But let’s not be too hasty and write off or underestimate our Welsh friends. If they’re still in the game at halftime and get a sniff, they have the capacity to go the whole way at home.

The Welsh are the closest to our playing style and on their day are a force. Along with Hook and Shane Williams, their tight five and halves are quality players.

A couple of Welsh teams are at the pointy end of the Magners League so there is some form on the board.

Let’s also remember that we’ve lost two and drawn one match against them in the last five played in Wales and who can forget Scotland last year?

Are we in a new paradigm? Have we moved forward? Are we going to ‘stop the boats’ along the River Taff?

The Wallabies are clearly the more dynamic team and this match will be an indicator as to whether their mental focus is developing in conjunction with their latent talent.

Lance says: Wallabies by 11.

Wallabies:

15 Kurtley Beale (Waratahs); 14 James O’Connor (Force); 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies); 12 Matt Giteau (Brumbies); 11 Drew Mitchell (Waratahs); 10 Quade Cooper (Reds); Will Genia (Reds); 8 Ben McCalman (Force); 7 David Pocock (Force); 6 Rockey Elsom [c] (Brumbies); 5 Nathan Sharpe (Force); 4 Mark Chisholm (Brumbies); 3 Ben Alexander (Brumbies); 2 Stephen Moore (Brumbies); 1 Benn Robinson (Waratahs).

Reserves: 16 Saia Faingaa (Reds); 17 James Slipper (Reds); 18 Dean Mumm (Waratahs); 19 Richard Brown (Force); 20 Luke Burgess (Waratahs); 21 Berrick Barnes (Waratahs); 22 Lachlan Turner (Waratahs).

Wales:

Wales team: 15. James Hook, 14. Will Harries, 13. Tom Shanklin, 12. Andrew Bishop, 11. Shane Williams, 10. Stephen Jones, 9. Mike Phillips, 1. Gethin Jenkins, 2. Matthew Rees (capt), 3. Adam Jones, 4. Bradley Davies, 5. Alan Wyn Jones, 6. Dan Lydiate, 7. Sam Warburton 8. Jonathan Thomas.

Reserves: 16. Huw Bennett, 17. Paul James, 18. Deinol Jones, 19. Martyn Williams, 20. Richie Rees, 21. Dan Biggar, 22. Chris Czekaj

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAH3SP5l8OE[/youtube]

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Roscoe Tims (aka @LanceFree): A nasty, opinionated little man whose views are indeed narrow with a capital 'N'. Favourite Sport: mungo bashing. Does he ever have anything positive to say?

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