Australia 20 Wales 19: Lessons from a clinical Wallabies display
What did we learn as Australia sealed a 20-19 win against Wales, completing a series whitewash against the Six Nations winners?
Wales need emotional intelligence
Wales coach Rob Howley was spot-on before his team’s most recent defeat by Australia when he called for “emotional intelligence”. The fact that Wales are most vulnerable when they have just scored has become a regular feature of their tour Down Under and something the Australians have preyed upon. The five key components of victory in rugby are said to be position, pressure, possession, patience and points. Wales have done the hardest job of developing a game-plan which can score points against any team in the world, and their intensity, commitment and defence is difficult to break down. Now the Welsh just need to learn to be patient and play in the right areas of the field – something that young captain Sam Warburton and Rhys Priestland are improving on with every game. With these final components, Wales will be confident of winning their Autumn Internationals against the big teams from the South.
Wales’ young guns are not far away from beating the best
Sir Clive Woodward tweeted that “history will show this to be an important tour in Wales’ development”. The ex-England boss will be referring to his own team’s so called ‘Tour of Hell’ when England where ruthlessly beaten in Australia and South Africa in 1998. Woodward is adamant these harsh lessons were the cornerstone of his side’s eventual 2003 World Cup triumph in Sydney. Despite Wales not only holding their own, but losing by such small margins (eight points in the first Test, two in the second and a point on Saturday) their young side have gained invaluable experience by playing overseas and losing to some of the world’s best players such as enigmatic scrum-half Will Genia and the inspirational David Pocock. Wales will have also realised that in Leigh Halfpenny they have one of the best kickers in world rugby, added into the mix George North and Alex Cuthbert – two of rugby’s most dangerous wingers -and a back row any international team would be jealous of – there is plenty of reasons to be positive.
Australia will be nearing prime form against the Lions
The British and Irish Lions have developed a knack of playing against the southern hemisphere giants while they are at the peak of their powers. Take for example the most recent tour to South Africa in 2009. South Africa were world champions and scraped home a 2-1 series victory. However, if the series had been in 2001 or 2005, they more than likely would have been beaten. Australia will be no different next year as they are the current tri-nations champions and Super Rugby champions – through the Queensland Reds – and have just beaten the Six Nations champions without some of their star players. Once back with a full-roster to pick from, all another year more experienced, Robbie Deans’ Wallabies will be nearing the form which has seen them win two World Cups. Wales will tell you how difficult a nut to crack the men in gold are at home – but maybe Scotland will be able to shed some light on the matter as they duly recorded a 9-6 win against Australia in their first match on tour.
The three-Test touring format is the best
A return to the old format of playing the same team over three Tests has undeniably made for more compelling viewing than watching different opposition every week. Both types of tours have their merits, with pre-tour concerns including rivalries becoming stale if matches against the same opposition are more regular. However, quite the opposite has occurred. Because Wales pitted their wits against Australia three times instead of just once, they have been allowed to learn more about themselves as well as the opposition, which has in turn made for a higher standard of spectacle and the added bonus of revenge puts an extra edge on each game.