Wales to target Barnes in second rugby Test
Australia's Berrick Barnes (C) attacks the The United States defense (EPA/KIM LUDBROOK)
Wales have trumpeted their plans to target Wallabies halfback Will Genia but they’re expecting five-eighth Berrick Barnes to be the key man for Australia in the second rugby Test in Melbourne on Saturday.
Desperate to level the three-match series at Etihad Stadium, the Welsh are well aware of the strengths of Barnes with his performance in the World Cup third-place playoff a recent reminder.
Barnes shifted from 12 to five-eighth after an early injury to Quade Cooper and deftly steered Australia to a 21-18 win with a try and a timely field goal.
“I haven’t seen too much of Super Rugby this year but, in the three-four playoff last year, Berrick Barnes got the man of the match,” said Welsh defence coach Shaun Edwards on Friday.
“From our experience, he’s very difficult to defend against.
“We expect them to play off their No.10 a lot more this week because they played off their nine (Genia) a lot last week.”
He said his Six Nations champion team felt keeping a southern hemisphere side to under 20 points would be a pointer to a win.
Edwards said in the last three tours he’d been involved in, his side had improved in the second Test of a series.
“Historically, we’ve improved in the second Test and the game we’ve found the hardest is the first one.
“There’s a lot of guys who’ve not played for the last four or five weeks.”
Their skipper Sam Warburton was one player who hadn’t played for 11 weeks.
He said Wales didn’t struggle for try-scoring opportunities but couldn’t finish them off.
“At 20-19, we had an overlap and, if we’d scored, you’d find the result would be a different one but that’s what Test rugby’s about – taking your chances.
“We made six line breaks and scored one try. They made six and scored three so we have to try and change that stat.”
Genia and Barnes helped steer Australia to a 27-19 win in Brisbane but are expecting a much-improved performance from the tourists in game two.
The Wallabies vice-captain said the unchanged team had prepared well for the second Test, and had kept a major focus on the breakdown.
They expected Wales to try to slow down the ball delivery to him.
“It’s an area they will look to target us to slow our ball down a little bit so we don’t get the front-foot ball and the momentum that we had last week, so we had a big emphasis on that this week,” Genia said.
“We understand that we can’t play the same way we did last week. If we want to win, we’ve got to be better because they’re going to be better so we’ve made a huge point of that at training.”
Meanwhile, with David Pocock to lead the Wallabies again, coach Robbie Deans says captain James Horwill will almost certainly sit out the rest of the season with a serious hamstring injury.
“It does look like he’s got a long-term injury,” Deans told ABC radio on Friday. “It’s unlikely he’ll play any rugby this year.”
Horwill visited a specialist in Melbourne this week and will have further tests on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.© AAP 2013
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