A three-test series against England is one of the highlights of 2016 for Australian rugby fans. (Photo: AFP)
Australia Vs. Wales
|Australia 15 defeated Wales 6|
|Referee: C Joubert|
|Touch judges: J Garces & S Berry|
Australia wins a cagey contest by nine points. It was brutal and tenacious, with the Wallabies backs against the wall for most of it.
Australia managed to keep Wales out with just 13 men for a period of time, just herculean defence from the green and gold.
Attacking wise both teams weren’t great but the Wallaby scrum was again impressive.
The Aussies will take a lot of heart from this performance, they were really pushed hard by Wales.
Australia to meet Scotland now in the quarter-finals and Wales to face South Africa.
The Wallabies and Wales go head-to-head at Twickeham to decide the winner of Rugby World Cup Pool A. Can Australia make it four World Cup wins in a row? Join The Roar from 2:45am (AEDT) for all the action from London.
Australia and Wales have both accounted for Fiji, Uruguay and England. Now all that is left is to decide the top team in the their group. Both teams are guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals but make no bones about it, this is no dead rubber.
The winner of this match will have an easier path in the knockout stages. They will face Scotland or Japan in the quarter-finals, and if they survive that encounter, then play either France, Ireland or Argentina in the semi-finals.
If victory is notched there, then potentially New Zealand is next up in the World Cup final.
But the loser of this match has a much tougher road. South Africa will be the opponent in the quarter-finals and then probably New Zealand in the semis.
It’s a path both Michael Cheika and Warren Gatland will want to avoid if possible.
The Wallabies have a great record against Wales, not having lost to them since 2008. But some records can be deceiving – most of those games were tight, see-sawing contests that were decided by a try, penalty or drop goal in the final minutes. None were blowouts or easy victories.
Wales have had their share of bad luck against Australia in the past seven years and will be hoping for a change. There is no better time to break that losing streak than in a World Cup.
The Welsh have been blighted by injury but this seems to have made their group more determined and closer. Wales have some world-class players and stars with tonnes of international experience.
They have several British and Irish Lions in their squad and their coach Gatland has won just about everything there is to offer. The Kiwi would surely love to get one over his trans-Tasman foes.
The scrum and the breakdown will be key areas in this game. The Wallabies’ scrum is on a high but Wales’ has looked rocky at times. Australia will be hoping to exploit that set-piece situation.
With no Michael Hooper, and the talented but inexperienced Sean McMahon in to replace him, Sam Warburton and co. – one of the best backrows in the world – may sense an advantage.
There is also some juicy backline match-ups, with big men Jamie Roberts and winger George North in the centres against Matt Giteau and Tevita Kuridrani.
Another Israel Folau versus North one-on-one, like in the 2013 Lions series, would be memorable.
There is everything to play for. Victory means the difference between realistically winning the World Cup compared to a quarter-final or semi-final knockout for either nation.
This should be an absorbing, attacking contest that might be one of the games of the tournament. Set your clocks early and enjoy.