Wallabies’ marathon season nearly over

By Russell Jackson, Russell Jackson is a Roar Guru

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12 Have your say

    Adam Ashley-Cooper (C) catches the ball during the International Rugby Union match between Italy and Australia at the Artemio Franchi Stadium in Florence on November 24, 2012. (AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS)

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    The Wallabies can see the finish line to their marathon season with captain Nathan Sharpe’s final game sure to fuel a strong closing burst against Wales.

    Australia will be playing their 15th Test of the year when they face the Welsh at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) in a season-ending match for both sides.

    Amazingly, the Wallabies will finish the season having played three more Tests than South Africa and England.

    Not only do the Wallabies have the Sharpe factor to spur them on, but they can also retain their world No.2 ranking, something fullback Berrick Barnes said would be a great achievement in an injury-plagued year.

    “It would be huge,” Barnes said.

    “We started there and to finish there would be a great reward for a lot of the hard work the blokes have put in.

    “Especially the coaching staff, you’ve got to take your hats off to them.

    “We’ve been like a hotel this year. People have been coming to stay left, right and centre and leaving.

    “The way they’ve adjusted to it and handled it is a credit to them.”

    Australia’s high turnover of players is demonstrated by the fact that only three members of the starting side from the corresponding fixture from last will feature this weekend.

    Barnes, centre Adam Ashley-Cooper and flanker Scott Higginbotham are the surviving starters from that match which Australia won.

    Last year’s World Cup finalists and Six Nations Grand Slam winners Wales are looking to avoid a seventh consecutive Test defeat after going down 33-10 to New Zealand last weekend.

    Half of Wales’ six straight Test losses came against the Wallabies in the three-Test June series in Australia.

    Coach Robbie Deans says there is always the risk players can think beyond games at the end of a long season but he believes there is too much on the line for that to happen.

    “There’s always the potential for them to be thinking beyond,” Deans said.

    “They also have the knowledge that with the final whistle there’s some respite coming.”

    Deans praised Sharpe who called off retirement plans twice to help the injury-ravaged Wallabies and will play 116th and final Test in Cardiff.

    When asked if Sharpe would be a motivating factor for the Wallabies Deans said: “They’re very conscious of Sharpey’s predicament.”

    “He’s given this young group a great start. He’s been a good source of counsel, a good source of composure and has led effectively as well.”

    Champion flanker David Pocock makes his long-awaited return from injury to resume hostilities with Welsh counterpart and captain Sam Warburton after being sidelined with a knee injury since August.

    The pair scrapped and scavenged in the June series where each Test was hard-fought with the biggest winning margin in a match was eight points.

    Wales coach Warren Gatland has made four changes to his side.

    The home side lost to Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand this November and a loss to Australia will see them drop out of the top-eight seeds and leave them open for a tougher group for the 2015 World Cup with the draw happening in London on Monday.

    Gatland has brought in Scott Andrews for injured tighthead prop Aaron Jarvis, while lock Ian Evans comes in for Bradley Davies, who was ruled out after being struck by All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore last weekend.

    Aaron Shingler replaces Ryan Jones in the back row with the latter dropping to the bench while Toulon prop Gethin Jenkins comes in for Paul James, who has returned to his English club Bath.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • December 1st 2012 @ 7:59am
      mark said | December 1st 2012 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Wallabies by 12.

      • December 1st 2012 @ 8:28am
        Justin2 said | December 1st 2012 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        4 penalties?

        • December 1st 2012 @ 9:00am
          mark said | December 1st 2012 @ 9:00am | ! Report


          but judging by your general sense of childish petulant pessimism toward the wallabies just do us all a favour and just support the mungo kangaroos. you are no wallaby supporter.

          • December 1st 2012 @ 12:18pm
            Justin2 said | December 1st 2012 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

            Childish petulant pessimism?

            Id say just more realistic – our ability to score more than a try per match hasnt been in great evidence this year so kicking penalties is a valid and likely way to win this Test.

            I hope we can give Wales a real touch up and run in some great tries. Is that likely? Not on the evidence of our form this year and on this tour in particular.

            Now you may think I have “childish petulant pessimism” and that I am no Wallaby supporter for my comments about this team. Frankly you would be very wrong.

            When I am on the couch this week I will be cheering hard for the lads, make no bones about it. If we play poor football then I will comment appropriately, if we play well I will do likewise.

            The fact that I have been doing more of the former is a reflection of how this team has been playing for the last 2 years at least.

            Will you be wearing your cheer leaders outfit tonight, complete with green and gold pom poms?

          • December 1st 2012 @ 10:21pm
            soapit` said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:21pm | ! Report

            nothing left to offer but insults mark?

    • December 1st 2012 @ 10:34am
      bennalong said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:34am | ! Report

      I looked for Spiros piece which would be expected the day of a test but it isn’t here

      I for one am disappointed but perhaps he’s a victim of he Roar haters who have the vitriol that is so prevalent on social websites

      How so many rugby “supporters” find so little to appreciate and so many individuals to target with not a trace of humanity, seems to be either a generational thing or a strange result of encouraging people who really have nothing positive to contribute to contribute anyway.

      That said I look foreward to tonight’s test with eager anticipation. The game will likely be close unless Beale manages to find a way to play closer to the gain line.

      Wayne Barnes will ref and I don’t think much of him. Cliffy and Taf better watch their big hits if his yellow card on their countryman Ofisa Treviranus who plays for London Irish is an example of his interpretation of a dangerous tackle

      Obviously his opinion of our scrum will be even more important

      I expect we might see another conservative game plan dominated by upfront contests and penalties

      Whilst not my own idea of fun the irony is all the Deans bashers make the national coach even more likely to play for a win in the safest way possible.
      And that would probably apply to the brave bugger who eventually takes over the poison chalice from him

      I’d love some great backline plays but I’ll take a win!!!!


      • December 1st 2012 @ 5:25pm
        Atawhai Drive said | December 1st 2012 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

        Spiro had his usual Saturday piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning.

    • December 1st 2012 @ 10:54am
      bennalong said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:54am | ! Report

      Re: Wayne Barnes, dumb refereeing decision against Wallabiers

      Remember this?………….

      • December 1st 2012 @ 12:24pm
        ben said | December 1st 2012 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        wow that was a cracking bad call.

    • December 1st 2012 @ 11:28am
      Geoff Brisbane said | December 1st 2012 @ 11:28am | ! Report

      In the Leyton Hewitt mould “COME ON” seems appropriate for the Welsh game. Wallabies by 2 tries one unconverted and 3 penalties. Welsh 1 try converted and 2 penalties and 2 misses and a failed drop goal. Go Wallabies

    • December 1st 2012 @ 9:07pm
      Offiah said | December 1st 2012 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

      Go Nathan Sharpe! Go Robbie Deans! Go Wallabies!!

    • December 2nd 2012 @ 9:41am
      Crashy said | December 2nd 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      Well done boys. A good end to a stupidly long season. Let there never agains be that many tests in a year. The injury toll looks reasonably ok so put your feet up boys. 2013 is going to be a massive year with the lions and the new depth we have created this year.

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