Will the Welsh defy the Wallabies? Predictions vs eventualities
This is the second part of my article, after the enthralling Wallabies game against Wales. I made a number of predictions about the game, and today I have matched them to the actual outcomes.
Prediction: The Welsh will bring their ‘A’ game and the pressure will tell on the Wallabies. The Wallabies will realise that they need the Trois Enfant Terriblé of O’Connor, Beale and Cooper a lot more than they thought.
Actual: The Welsh did rise to another level. They hurried the Wallabies throughout the first half. But, the Wallabies remained composed and kept trying. To go in at 13-7 was not a true reflection of the game in the first half.
Trois Enfant Terriblé were missed but only because they take the team to another level. The current team have shown tenacity and self belief for two games in a row. This is an improvement on the 2011 team.
Prediction: I predict that the Welsh will win a close one on the back of a much better performance than last week and parity at the breakdown. The Wallabies backs will struggle because the fly half is under pressure and the Welsh will kick their goals and their outside backs will eventfully reap the rewards of the hard work from the forwards.
Actual: The Wallabies won in a thriller. Either team could have won.
Wales get back Gatland, their experienced and motivational if not domestically challenged, coach, albeit unofficially.
Prediction: The Welsh will start playing from the kickoff rather than late in the second half. The Welsh spine of Halfpenny, Priestland, Phillips, Warburton and Rees will perform much better than in the first game and nearer to their previous high standards. North will cause all sort of problems for Vuna. Watch out for an impressive performance from Ashley Beck in the centres.
Actual: the Welsh spine did improve significantly but Genia continued on from last week. Vuna was tested and found wanting. But the welsh did not make the yellow card pay the way it should have.
Prediction: It all starts at the breakdown. The Wallabies dominated the breakdown last week. This week, the Welsh will achieve parity with their physical, forward pack. No team will dominate the breakdown against the Wallabies while Pocock, and now Hooper, are around.
Actual: the breakdown was fierce and ended up with parity for Botha teams. Pocock was awesome and hooper’s cameo was punctuated by two errors.
Prediction: Parity can and will cause a ripple effect through the Australian backs. Genia will be less effective but still competent. Barnes will have fewer opportunities, less time and be under more pressure. This is the fulcrum of this game and the series.
Actual: the commentators said that Barnes is a better player for the wallabies than the Tahs. I completely agree.
Prediction: Barnes has more respect for the jersey than to openly carry on with the panic decisions and then the huffing and puffing that he displays at the Waratahs. However, it may still be going on in his head.
If he cannot control this urge, or deflect the Welsh “attention”, the Wallabies will be in for a long and disappointing night. Quick hands to well placed support runners is the answer. Barnes is not that sort of fly half!
Actual: Barnes kept on trying different things but still kicks too much.
Prediction: A comparison of each team’s spines is a close run thing. The Welsh win fullback and fly half. The Wallabies win halfback, number 8 and hooker. The main contentious position is fullback. Halfpenny can match Adam Ashley-Cooper’s traditional strengths such as in the air, but exceeds him in open field running.
Prediction: The Welsh have a lot more to lose than the Wallabies this week. The Rugby World Cupn playoff had little meaning. The subsequent rematch in Wales was a fundraiser and a bridge too far for the Welsh who were into their domestic season.
Prediction: Last week, the Welsh were surprisingly off the pace. This Saturday’s game is their last chance to prove that they are the real deal. The Wallabies, on the other hand, are already through to the final of this three game tournament. Despite the Welsh being so average last week, the Wallabies only scampered home by 8 points.
Prediction: The Wallabies showed that they are still capable of relaxing at critical stages just like the 2008-2011 versions. This will again occur this weekend.
The Welsh came ready to play this week and took it to the Wallabies. The Wallabies replied in kind and struck like a death adder when it counted.