Posts Tagged ‘Wallabies’

It was Wales’ first Autumn test victory since 2009, a convincing 40-6 demolition of Argentina. It was even sweeter after the battering we suffered last Saturday from South Africa in losing 24-15.


The Wales coaching team will be delighted with this performance. We dominated in all aspects of play. Most pleasing to me was (a) keeping Argentina from scoring a try and (b) the good support running whenever a Welsh player made a break. This was something that was lacking against South Africa last weekend. It was a marked improvement by the Wales team, we even scored a try from a rolling maul which is no mean feat against Argentina. How do Wales gauge beating Argentina by this convincing score? The last time Argentina won an international was against Wales in Cardiff last Autumn, when they beat us 26-12. Here are Argentina’s results since that game of last year.

Argentina’s results since beating Wales last November
Month Teams Score
November 2012 Wales v Argentina 12-26
France v Argentina 39-22
Ireland v Argentina 48-24
June 2013 Argentina v England 3-32
Argentina v England 26-51
August 2013 South Africa v Argentina 73-13
Argentina v South Africa 17-22
September 2013 New Zealand v Argentina 26-13
Australia v Argentina 14-13
Argentina v New Zealand 15-33
October 2013 Argentina v Australia 17-54
November 2013 England v Argentina 31-12
Wales v Argentina 40-6

What can we take from this? Well, Wales’ victory is as heavy a defeat as pretty much any side has inflicted upon Argentina in this last year. In addition, Argentina nearly beat Australia in September away from home, only going down 14-13, and gave South Africa a good run for their money in August at home, only losing 17-22. So, I think Wales should take great pride from beating a team who are clearly no pushover, and to beat them in such convincing fashion is even better.

It is sobering to think that this was Wales’ first victory in an Autumn international since we beat Argentina in 2009. In 2010 we managed a draw against Fiji and losses to New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. In 2011 we only played one “Autumn” test as it was the Rugby World Cup, we played Australia in December and lost. And, of course last year we lost all four Autumn internationals in a rather dismal fashion.

Wales have a game against Tonga on Friday, before the big game against Australia on Saturday the 30th. That is the big game for Wales this Autumn series. Realistically, we were not expecting to beat South Africa, but if we don’t manage to beat Australia then I think the Welsh players, coaching team and supporters will consider the 2013 Autumn series to have been a failure. Beat Australia, and we will go into the 2014 Six Nations with confidence that we can retain the title for an unprecedented third year in a row!

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The rugby writers are baffled. The ex-players are incensed. Brian O’Driscoll, probably the best centre in World rugby over the last 10-12 years, has been dropped for the 2013 Lions’ final and deciding Test against Australia this Saturday.


This could be the biggest gamble of Warren Gatland’s coaching career. In dropping O’Driscoll, not only has Gatland dropped one of the best players the Northern Hemisphere has ever produced, but he has made it clear that his “Welsh power game” approach will be his chosen tactic on Saturday. In choosing Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies to play in the centre on Saturday, it is clear that Gatland plans to try and batter Australia into submission.

There are ten Welsh players in the starting lineup, which equals a record set back in 1950. Ten Welsh players, and yet Wales have not beaten Australia since Gatland took over coaching Wales in December 2007. Last year (2012) Wales lost to Australia on four successive occasions, although there were only a few points between the two sides in each of the losses. If Gatland’s gamble pays off he will be hailed a hero. If he fails the daggers will be drawn and he will be vilified in the Press.

I should declare that I personally do not agree with the decision to drop O’Driscoll. In reading around the web, I have only managed to find one article supporting the decision, and that is an article in which Gatland defends his decision, saying it is based on his head rather than his heart. To say Gatland is in the minority would be an understatement.

I think, for several reasons, that Gatland has made a mistake. Firstly, this is O’Driscoll’s fourth Lions tour. He has never won a Lions series, and of course in 2005 he was famously spear-tackled in the opening minutes of the first Test, dislocating his shoulder and ruling him out of the rest of the three Test series. In what would almost certainly have been his final Lions appearance, his level of motivation would have been huge.

Secondly, during the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa the centre pairing of O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts was one of the highlights in the Lions’ performances. Roberts won the “player of the tour” award, and this was due in no small measure to the way he and O’Driscoll combined beautifully in the centre. Why did Gatland choose to ignore this in choosing Jonathan Davies over O’Driscoll to partner the now fit again Roberts?

Thirdly, Brian O’Driscoll’s defence is incredible. With Sam Warburton absent through injury, and the Wallabies having George Smith back in their team, the Lions need to play incredibly well at the breakdown. O’Driscoll is not only one of the best tacklers, but he is very good at stealing ball in the tackle. He did not miss a single tackle in the second Test, and his tackle count of twelve tackles was higher than any other back.

Fourthly, O’Driscoll is a leader. He has been captain of Ireland for many years. He has captained the Lions on seven occasions, including one Test. Gatland has chosen to make Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones the captain for Saturday’s Test. Certainly AW Jones has been one of the best performing forwards of the tour. He is also an experienced captain at regional level, but has only captained Wales on one occasion, and has never captained the Lions. I think the Lions will miss O’Driscoll’s leadership qualities on Saturday.

Of course, should the Lions win on Saturday and thus win the series, Gatland’s apparently crazy decision to drop O’Driscoll will be hailed as a master stroke! We shall see……

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In a few hours’ time, the 2013 British and Irish Lions will play the second test against Australia in Melbourne. Having won the first test in Brisbane last week in dramatic (and lucky!) fashion, winning today will win them the 3-test series. They have not won a series since South Africa in 1997.

Warren Gatland and his coaching staff have made 5 changes to the starting line-up. Scrum half Mike Phillips has lost his starting place to Ben Youngs, which doesn’t come as any surprise to me as I thought Phillips had quite a poor game in the first test. He was thoroughly outplayed by the Wallabies scrum half Will Genia, and all his attempts at breaks were thwarted by the Aussie back row.


Other changes see Wales’ Dan Lydiate start as blind-side flanker, taking the place of Tom Croft. Lydiate, the player of the 2012 6 Nations, is a prodigious tackler, so hopefully he can eliminate the dangers posed by players like Aussie half-backs Will Genia and Kurtley Beale (whom I expect to start at fly half). Ireland’s Tommy Bowe is back from injury and replaces Alex Cuthbert on the wing. Those three changes are tactical, the other two are forced by injury.

Geoff Parling comes in for the injured Paul O’Connel in the second row, and in the front row Mako Vunipola comes in for the injured Alex Corbisiero. Although I have not read it, I assume Jamie Roberts not being included at centre means he is still injured.

Although it would be great to see the Lions wrap up the series today, part of me hopes it will all come down to the third and final test in Sydney, just like it did the last time the Lions toured Australia in 2001. We shall know in a few hours’ time!

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The 2013 Lions just managed to win the first test against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday by 23-21. The close scoreline only tells part of the story. I think this was a match Australia lost more than one which the Lions won. Australia missed a total of 5 kicks amounting to 14 points, whereas the Lions only missed a single 2-point kick. This made all the difference in what was a ferociously contested match.


Australia and the Lions both scored two tries. Australia’s were both scored by the debutant winger Israel Folau, who cut through the Lions defence on two occasions and showed what a gifted player he is. The Lions’ tries were scored by George North and Alex Cuthbert, the two Welsh wingers. Australia suffered several injuries to their back line, with centre Christian Leali’ifano and full back Berrick Barnes both going off with nasty injuries. Although the Lions were able to exploit the weakened Wallabies to a certain extent, they really should have made more of the chance and put the match beyond the reach of the Wallabies.

The outcome of the game all came down to the last few minutes, with replacement Kurtley Beale missing two opportunities to win the match for Australia from two separate penalties. Whatever the ultimate outcome of the test series, this result is really one which should have gone in favour of Australia, and the Lions can count themselves very lucky to be 1-0 up in the series.

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