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Wales vs Australia
Spring Tour, 2016
|Principality Stadium, Cardiff|
Australia have started their Spring Tour in good form, knocking off Wales by 24 points.
All the wash-up from Wales vs Wallabies:
» Match Report: Wallabies rout Wales
» Five talkings points from the match
» What changes should the Wallabies make?
» Vote on our DIY Wallabies player ratings
The Wallabies take their first steps towards achieving the rare Grand Slam when they kick off the Spring Tour against Wales this morning in Cardiff. Join The Roar from 1:30am (AEDT) for all the live scores, highlights and rugby action.
While the Wallabies will be out to celebrate their historic 600th test match with a big performance, the Welsh are trying to snap an 11-game losing streak against the green and gold.
Australia is coming off the back of an up and down Rugby Championship campaign that saw them break a losing streak of their own on the international stage.
Still, just three wins from their last 11 tests is not something to write home about in what has been a tumultuous 12 months since the World Cup last year.
“I don’t know if anyone’s thinking about 12 in a row when you haven’t won as many games as we should’ve won this year,” said Wallaby coach Michael Cheika.
“All that stuff is exactly what it is, the past. It gives us nothing on Saturday and gives them nothing either.”
While Wales have that bad record against Australia in recent times, seven of those 11 losses have been by just seven points or less, something stand-in captain Gethin Jenkins has been quick to note.
“We’ve come up close a couple of times and obviously lost in the last play of the game a few times,” said Jenkins.
“They’re coming here on the back of what’s been some improved performances in the Rugby Championship and they’ll be looking at their past history against us to try and get that victory.”
Wales have fallen under the same bus as Australia this year though, coming out on the wrong side of a dominant three-test series against New Zealand in June.
Despite this, the Welsh are sitting back up in fifth in the world rankings after an impressive Six Nations campaign this year, finishing second behind a Grand Slam winning English side.
Plenty of movement across both lineups, not the least Welsh coach Warren Gatland, who has been given the reigns of the British and Irish Lions side and will miss the Wallabies test.
Assistant coach Rob Howley will take over in his stead.
For the Wallabies, Cheika will welcome the return of David Pocock after recovering from a broken hand but has been shifted to the other side of the scrum at number 6 for the first time in his career.
Tevita Kuridrani has been plugged into the outside centre position, connecting up with Reece Hodge in what feels like the hundredth centre pairing used by the Wallabies this year.
Nick Phipps takes the starting halfback role after Will Genia was denied release by his club side Stade Francais.
The home side will be without some key players in the forward pack but will be buoyed by the big return of star fullback Leigh Halfpenny who will play his first test in 14 months.
Captain Sam Warburton is still making his way back from injury and has been racking up game time for club side Cardiff Blues, likely to return next weekend for the game against Argentina.
Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams have both been ruled out with knee and ankle injuries respectively, while Alun Wyn Jones has pulled himself out of the game after the tragic passing of his father.
History is always a good marker to work from, but Wales have been one of the best European sides all year, especially at home.
A depleted lineup will hurt the home side though, especially at the breakdown and in the scrum battle with some key players missing from the pack.
Australia always come to the Spring Tour with the Grand Slam on their mind and it’s no different this time.
Off the back of a less than ideal start to the year, the Wallabies bounced back and gained some confidence during the Rugby Championship.
The green and gold should be able to get the job done and kick off their tour with a win.
Australia to win by 15.