Ill-disciplined Australia target injury-hit Wales

·3-min read

Australia will bring their topsy-turvy season to a close against a "bruised" Wales on Saturday, hoping to improve on their ill-discipline and kick off their attacking shackles in a bid to avoid an unwanted record.

The Wallabies arrived in the United Kingdon on the back of five consecutive victories, but Dave Rennie's team then suffered a 15-13 defeat by Scotland before going down 32-15 to the English last week.

The latter match saw the Australians penalised 22 times.

A loss to Wales would leave Australia winless on their European autumn tour for the first time since 1976.

"It's the fable of the man who built the house on sand," Australia fly-half James O'Connor said of where his team were mentally.

"If you don't have the correct discipline and if your foundations aren't strong, then you won't win Test-match footy, especially up here. The margins for error are so small.

"Back in the southern hemisphere it's a lot quicker footy, there are a lot more opportunities where you can pull the trigger and really score tries. Over here you only get a couple and if you're not ready to take those, if you're not in the moment, playing in the moment, then you're going to miss them."

Games between the two sides tend to be close. Between 2009-17, Australia ran out winners 13 times straight before Wales broke that run with a 9-6 win in Cardiff in 2018.

Most recently, Wales beat the Wallabies 29-25 in a thriller at the 2019 World Cup in Japan and are seeking a third successive victory over Australia.

"We feel we've had a good year and we've really built this year, so we want to show the public what we can do," added O'Connor, who made his debut almost 10 years to the day in the Welsh capital.

Coach Rennie received a boost with news that tighthead props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa had both made full recoveries from injury for the Wales game.

Loosehead prop James Slipper will captain the side for just the second time in the absence of the injured Michael Hooper.

"We need to be a lot more clinical," Rennie said, bemoaning his team's "lack of discipline and a lack of accuracy".

"Ultimately discipline hurt us," he said in reference to the England loss. "We were penalised 22 times. It's difficult to win Test matches if you're going to do that, give up possession and territory."

- 'On the edge' -

Wales coach Wayne Pivac said his focus was on a victory to follow up on last week's unconvincing 38-23 win over Fiji after two losses, to New Zealand (54-16) and South Africa (23-18).

"There's a light at the end of the tunnel for the boys," Pivac said.

"It's been three very physical matches at a time of the season where preparation probably wasn't the best that we would have liked, the players would have liked, so a lot of effort has been put in over the last four weeks.

"We've given them a good rest this week - today is the first big training day - but everyone knows their roles, so it is about freshening them up for one more big effort."

Pivac welcomed back winger Josh Adams and No 8 Aaron Wainwright, with New Zealand-born Uilisi Halaholo and Nick Tompkins starting in midfield, Jonathan Davies surprisingly missing out on the match-day squad.

"They'll be very, very dangerous," Pivac said of Australia. "They're coming off a long season, they'll be looking at it like us, I suppose: one more big effort.

"Knowing Dave, he'll have them wound up and they'll be on the edge. But a win is what we're after, and if we got a win on the weekend, I think we can look at it as a successful campaign."


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