JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Pitiless schedule plays in favour of the Welsh


Paul Cully

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Wallabies face 'desperate' Wales

Wales's 13-man lineout against the All Blacks shows they can be ingenious when desperate, warns Paul Cully. But he says the Wallabies should be able to beat them easily.

PT0M0S 620 349

When the Welsh started hiring a succession of New Zealanders to hammer that fundamental rugby building block - fitness - into their players, they had games such as the one against the Wallabies in Cardiff in mind.

Warren Gatland is the latest of a Kiwi trio to take the helm, but the goal is the same: to get the side into the requisite shape to play out the last 20 minutes like it was the first 20 - southern hemisphere shape.

They have an opportunity to test their progress this weekend, against a side that cannot be at their peak.

Last Test … it's been a long year for Nathan Sharpe.

Last Test … it's been a long year for Nathan Sharpe. Photo: Getty Images

Worryingly, this will be the Wallabies' 17th game since the World Cup: three more than the All Blacks, five more than the Springboks, four more than Wales and seven more than the French. Throw in the elongated Super Rugby tournament and you have a schedule that is unlikely to have been crafted by coaches. Also spare a thought for Nathan Sharpe as he cranks that big frame out of bed in years to come. It has been a pitiless retirement year.

In the opposite corner there were signs last week that Wales were emerging from a slump. The statistics back up that feeling. They carried the ball for 461 metres, matched the All Blacks for offloads and conjured two tries that were a product of clever coaching and spirit. But more than that, they got something approaching a return to form from their bigger names - midfielder Jonathan Davies, No.8 Toby Faletau and, crucially, captain Sam Warburton. Wales lost convincingly but grabbed something to build on.

New Zealand weariness was a contributing factor to the Welsh mini-revival. The game entered a second phase about the 50th-minute mark with the score at 33-0 and the visitors moving into energy-conservation mode. But another change occurred about the same time, with openside Justin Tipuric coming on for wounded blindside Ryan Jones.

Return to form ... Toby Faletau.

Return to form ... Toby Faletau. Photo: Getty Images

Suddenly, with two fast men in tandem, the Welsh back row had more legs. Warburton was released from direct competition against the game's finest, Richie McCaw. And suddenly, he started to find the ball and drive into contact.

Within minutes of Tipuric coming on, he had carried strongly three times. The Welsh continued to use him as a lineout target. In the 68th minute he forced a crucial turnover penalty between his own posts. This was more like the character that won so much respect at the World Cup. David Pocock's return is unlikely to be an easy one if the Welsh repeat the dual-openside tactic in the second half. It would not even entirely surprise if they started with Tipuric and Warburton.

Better tempo in the later stages against the All Blacks also came from replacement halfback Tavis Knoyle. His pace to the breakdown and snappy distribution overshadowed Mike Phillips's more cumbersome work.

"It's about some of the Welsh players putting their hands up in terms of selection," Gatland was pointedly reported as saying about the Wallabies game and its importance for Wales' Lions candidates, Phillips included. "There are maybe a couple of lines going through a couple of names and they need to re-establish themselves."

It was an emphatic message designed to get an equally emphatic response.

For Robbie Deans, there is a degree of thanklessness in this task. Calculations show that only a winning margin of more than 15 points would be enough to restore the Wallabies to the No.2 ranking in the world. Any sort of loss or even a draw and they slip to fourth.

But confidence for this weekend can be found in strange places. Without the injured tighthead Adam Jones, the Welsh scrum is not a patch on the unit that caused the Wallabies so much grief in June.

Indeed, the home side is down to its third choice, not that the immediate back-up, Aaron Jarvis, inspired much confidence while being taken apart by the Samoans as the game wore on. The Wallabies have the personnel to finish a tough year on a positive note: this will simply test how much they have got left in the tank.

Twitter -@whiskeycully

9 comments so far

  • Lets not forget that a few of those tests were played straight after the WC last year, a silly money making decision when clearly no one was interested and the resulting affect as you have it above is plain to see. Poor management from the ARU yet again.

    Date and time
    November 30, 2012, 11:46AM
    • Andrew Hore getting (only) 5 weeks for that cowardly attack to
      an opponents head, off the ball, resulting in hospital, is a disgrace.
      Off the field, he would be prosecuted.
      (Hore has previously been caught shooting randomly at a seal colony in NZ, killing many-
      so clearly he has a "wee bit" of a problem ... mentally ... )

      He should have been made an example of - Why aren't the media talking about this ...?

      Any parent watching that incident will now say "Not my kid!"
      when the rugby season comes around. Terrible for the game.

      It proves, once again, that the AB's, whilst being a wonderful team,
      are policed by different rules, to the detriment of the game.

      IRB judiciary, you should hang your heads in shame.

      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 12:15PM
      • I agree with your thoughts on the IRB, but as far as the Andrew Hore issue goes, I think you really need to read the report.

        Date and time
        November 30, 2012, 4:03PM
    • Two teams running on empty tanks and looking at this game as thankfully the last of the season. Should be one ugly encountered where both don't want the humilation that will surely come with a defeat !

      A winning margin of 15+ gets the Wallabies back to #2 in the IRB Rankings...thanks Cully for that tit-bit....which surely means the Wallabies NOW have much more to play for.
      Either way it's still going to be ugly and brutal. Can't wait !

      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 12:26PM
      • You can bet it will be ugly Machooka, this is the Dean's coached Wallabies we're talking about here. They win and lose ugly!

        Date and time
        November 30, 2012, 1:29PM
    • Wales probably have a bit more to play for - a loss will tip them out of the top 8 in favour of Argentina, relevant to the seedings for the next world cup. But can't see it being a great game, unless the tiredness factor opens it up into less smothering defence game. I see Pocock is back, but have to say that Hooper is extremely unlucky to be dropped, even for Pocock. Hooper has been the only consistently good forward this year. You've got a fairly non-consequential game (for seedings it doesn't matter if Australia are ranked 2 or 3 in the world), so would have thought it a good time to see how Pocock or Hooper goes at number 6 or 8, especially with Higginbotham not being a consistent force and Palu having playing a couple of strong(ish) games - that's probably his quota for a few months.

      Uncle Al
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 1:33PM
      • I reckon the Welsh are shoes in to bounce the Aussies especially after the AB match and the utterly disgraceful performance by that evil team.
        It must have them all worked up to make things right, to balance up the good from the bad, to show the world how real men how a real rugby team can play and to hell with the points and result anyway.
        Now they know they are up against this Okker team, yeah ,trained by a Kiwi, but Okkers by birthright by moral standaeds far far higher than any heathen Kiwi mob.
        So in essence it will be a great game, a hard game but played with sportsmanship and decency and respect for something greater than just a game of rugby.
        And no doubt all the Welsh will be there to see justice done.
        But they will also show their appreciation by applauding both teams before and after the game , although having no doubt that the victory will be theirs.
        Perhaps the ultimate game in rugby , how it should be , played by the mightiest warriors the perfect rugby players from 2 sides who regularly come second or worse but who do not care.
        The envy of every Kiwi rugby mad fan who can but wallow in jealousy and envy holding ever so grimly and pathetically to the RWC, the super 15, and any and all other winable cups.
        Poor compensation they realise for what Wales and Australia possess.
        Perhaps those who migrate hope to improve their moral standing but as we all know they are just plainly wasting their time eh mates.

        Date and time
        November 30, 2012, 8:14PM
        • Hope that it will be a close game and that Wales will win. The Wallabies will need to cope with very cold conditions and their pack will need to be on top from the beginning.

          Date and time
          November 30, 2012, 9:28PM
          • I actually want to comment on Nathan Sharpe. Fantastic career and I hope the Aussies have a great victory tonight to send him off. I've been amazed at his huge performances against the ABs this year, in a team decimated by injury and seemingly struggling with political ructions. When interviewed after a loss the guy is filthy. Not because of arrogance, but because he gave everything he had and is genuinely gutted. Well played Nathan Sharpe, from a pesky Kiwi.

            Date and time
            December 01, 2012, 12:29PM

            Make a comment

            You are logged in as [Logout]

            All information entered below may be published.

            Error: Please enter your screen name.

            Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

            Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

            Error: Please enter your comment.

            Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

            Post to

            You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

            Thank you

            Your comment has been submitted for approval.

            Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

            Related Coverage

            HuffPost Australia

            Rugby World Cup 2015

            Round 1
            Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
            ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
            TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
            IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
            Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
            SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
            FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
            SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
            WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
            Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
            NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
            Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
            SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
            Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
            AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
            FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
            Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
            NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
            Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
            ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
            ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
            Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
            SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
            ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
            AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
            SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
            Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
            IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
            Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
            TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
            Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
            WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
            FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
            Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
            NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
            SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
            Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
            SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
            ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
            Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
            ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
            IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
            Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
            CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
            FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
            Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
            SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
            NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
            Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
            NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
            Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
            SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
            AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
            ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
            ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
            Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
            ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
            FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
            USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 2
            Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
            SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
            NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
            IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
            Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
            AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
            Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
            SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
            Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
            ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
            Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
            SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
            Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
            NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Rugby World Cup 2015
            Team P W L D +/- Pts
            Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
            Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
            England 4 2 2 0 58 11
            Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
            Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
            View all
            Rugby World Cup 2015
            Team P W L D +/- Pts
            South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
            Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
            Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
            Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
            USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
            View all
            Rugby World Cup 2015
            Team P W L D +/- Pts
            New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
            Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
            Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
            Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
            Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
            View all
            Rugby World Cup 2015
            Team P W L D +/- Pts
            Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
            France 4 3 1 0 57 14
            Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
            Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
            Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
            View all

            Follow Us on Facebook

            Featured advertisers