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Posts Tagged ‘2016 Autumn Tests’

Later today, at 17:30 GMT, Wales will take on South Africa in their fourth and final autumn test. Ironically, if we win today this 2016 autumn series will h ave been our most successful yet. And yet, few people have been impressed so far with Wales’ performances. We were thrashed by Australia in the opening test, in one of the worst displays I have seen by Welsh side in many years. Although we then beat Argentina and Japan, both were poor performances by Wales in my opinion. We only just won each of them. So, how well Wales play today will determine whether this 4-test campaign can be deemed a success or not.

South Africa are coming of two back-to-back defeats, to England a fortnight ago and to Italy last weekend. They have never lost to Italy before, and most experts are labelling this South African team as one of the worst ever. This, together with Wales’ stuttering performances, means the pressure is really on Rob Howley’s team to win, and to win well.

Although it is a loss to not have Sam Warburton leading the team, it is an area where we have a more than able replacement in Justin Tipuric. I am pleased to see that Holley is starting with Scott Williams at inside centre and not Jamie Roberts. I have never been a fan of Jamie Roberts, and if Wales are going to develop their attacking play beyond the “send a big man up the middle” approach I think we have to look beyond Jamie Roberts to someone like Scott Williams, who is more creative.

Whatever the outcome of today’s match, we then have a wait of just over two months before the 2017 6 Nations. I will blog more about the 6 Nations in the week before it starts, but Wales’ fixture list is

  • Sunday 5 February – Italy v Wales
  • Saturday 11 February – Wales v England
  • Saturday 25 February – Scotland v Wales
  • Saturday 11 March – Wales v Ireland
  • Saturday 18 March – France v Wales

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It was another rather unimpressive display from Wales; we beat Japan thanks to a last minute drop goal by replacement fly half Sam Davies. Japan are a much improved side, and the days of thrashing them are over I think, but really Wales should have won this game by more. It was another stuttering performance, and we failed to take many of our chances.

It did seem that Jamie Roberts, who was dropped for the game against Argentina, was out to prove a point, as he had a very good game. But, I am not a fan of Jamie Roberts. What he does, he does very well, as good as anyone in world rugby. But, for me, he is far too one-dimensional. There is little variety to his game; he is a world class tackler and a world class battering ram, but beyond that I don’t see what else he does. I would much prefer that Wales go with the more varied and skilful play of Scott Williams, I think this can add variety to our attacking game in a way which having Jamie Roberts at inside centre cannot.

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Wales beat Japan 33-30, thanks to a last minute drop goal by replacement fly half

It will be interesting to see which combinations Rob Howley picks for our match against South Africa next Saturday. Luckily for Wales, this South African team seem to be amongst the worst in their history. On Saturday they lost for the first time to Italy, going down 20-18. This puts England’s thumping of them into some kind of perspective, but Wales cannot afford to lose next week to such a poor South African team. Not only do we need to win, but we need to win with a convincing performance, something we are yet to show this autumn despite two wins out of three.

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Wales beat Argentina on Saturday (12 November) 24-20, but it was an error strewn and unimpressive performance in my opinion. Yes, it was a significant improvement on the woeful display against Australia the previous week, but with all the territory and possession Wales had in this game we should have won comfortably. Too may moves broke down due to poor passing or poor decision making. We still have a long way to go to get back to any kind of form, which we need to do before we face South Africa in two weeks.

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Wales beat Argentina 24-20 on Saturday (12 November), but it was a scrappy win and Wales are still way short of their best.

Wales scored two tries, with one being converted, and three penalties from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny. But, Argentina also scored two tries and were in the game right up until the end. Each time it looked like Wales had the game in their control, Argentina would come back with a score. Their playing in the Rugby Championship has certainly lifted their level of play, they are now far more consistent than they used to be thanks to the discipline of taking part in this annual tournament.

In the other autumn tests, England hammered South Africa 37-21, Scotland lost by a solitary 1 point 23-22 to Australia, Ireland beat Canada 52-21, France beat Samoa 52-8, and New Zealand beat Italy 68-10. England are now on a 11-match winning streak, with all 10 of their matches under Eddie Jones having been won.

Next up for Wales are Japan, with a 14:30 kick-off next Saturday (19 November) at the Millennium Stadium. On paper, it should be the easiest match of the four autumn tests, but we mustn’t forget the shock that Japan inflicted upon South Africa in last year’s World Cup. I  hope that Rob Howley and his coaching team do not make too many changes to the team for Japan. We need to be a settled 15, working as a unit and at our best to take on South Africa the following Saturday.

 

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Later this afternoon Wales will take on Argentina in the second match of their 2016 autumn test series. As I blogged about last Monday, we got thoroughly thrashed 32-8 by Australia in our opening match. I sincerely hope that we can put on a better display against Argentina; really nothing except a win will satisfy the Welsh fans.

There are six changes in all from the team that started against Australia, with perhaps the most noticeable change being Jamie Roberts, who has been dropped to the bench with Jonathan Davies back from the tight hamstring he sustained just before kick-off last week to partner his Scarlets team mate Scott Williams. Sam Warburton is back in the  Welsh side, but Gethin Jenkins retains the captaincy. Alun Wyn Jones returns after missing last week’s  match due to the death of his grandfather.

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Wales will play Argentina at 17:30 in the second of their 4-match autumn test series. Last Saturday we lost 32-8 to Australia, so today is a must-win match.

Meanwhile, elsewhere the other autumn tests kick-off with a vengeance. At 14:30 England take on South Africa in Twickenham, to see if they can retain their 100% record under Eddie Jones. At the same time, Scotland take on Australia in Murrayfield, and Ireland take on Canada in Dublin with a 19:15 kick-off. New Zealand have, at least on paper, an easy match against Italy, with a 14:00 (GMT) kick-off, and finally France take on Samoa with a kick-off at 16:45 (GMT).

What a feast of rugby!

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