Wales Must Learn Their Lessons As Quickly as New-Look Wallabies

Wales Australia rugby. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wales Must Learn Their Lessons As Quickly as New-Look Wallabies

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The pressure is mounting on Wales and their head coach Warren Gatland after they suffered an eighth successive defeat last weekend. They have a chance to make amends in Sydney on Saturday, but coach and analyst Tomas Marks says they will have to make major improvements.

Australia managed to ignite the Joe Schmidt era with a gritty performance and win against Wales in Sydney.

Now comes the second Test on Saturday in Melbourne, where the outcome will either be a 2-0 defeat or the lifeline of a shared series.

Before this match the Wallabies hadn’t won in Sydney for a decade but that hoodoo is off their back as they won by 24-16.

This was a completely new Australian squad with a new captain in Liam Wright and seven new caps in their 23 man squad.

Behind the scenes they have added three very astute assistant coaches in former British Lion Geoff Parling, contact area coach Laurie Fisher and New Zealand coaching legend Mike Cron.

This new coaching team only had four days with the squad but there were positive signs of their impact with fluency in attack, defensive set piece pressure and there was real quality in their breakdown and clean outs.

Wales started the match with an early penalty from fly-half Ben Thomas, but in the first 20 minutes they conceded six consecutive penalties resulting in a 13-3 advantage to the Wallabies.

Australia gained those points through the boot of fly-half Noah Lolesio and a pick-and-go try from powerhouse tight-head prop Taniela Tupou.

Wales did recover after this try with an excellent driving line-out and penalty try to reduce the score to 13-10 at half time.

Wales started the second half in a lively fashion, releasing new cap Josh Hathaway down the right wing and he kicked the ball inside and forced a five metre attacking scrum.

But Schmidt cunningly changed two tight five forwards at half time and Australia held firm in this key scrum. Wales were sloppy with their blindside attack with the Wallabies easily marshalling Aaron Wainwright and Josh Hathaway into touch.

Thomas levelled the scores soon after with another penalty but they wasted penalty advantage possession with a hopeful kick through the opposition defence.

I sincerely hope that Wales change this habit of kicking away penalty advantage possession as it is quality possession to score tries.

Australia taught Wales a lesson in this scenario on the 52nd minute as they continued to play in attack after an indiscretion from Welsh captain Dewi Lake on the floor.

The Wallabies exposed Wales’ narrow defence and released winger Filipo Daugunu.

He rounded the unfortunate centre Mason Grady and backed himself to slide in at the corner and score a magnificent team try.

This was a very good learning try for the Welsh team as it was either a system error with Owen Watkin going to the short side or Grady standing too tight defensively and not allowing himself enough time to swim off the decoy runners and hit Daugunu.

Defence coach Mike Forshaw definitely needs to fix this problem as they were exposed on three line breaks in wide channels between the centre and winger.

Despite this fine Australian team try, Wales were able to bounce back with a line break from the impressive number eight Aaron Wainwright. Wales could have scored but a last ditch ankle tap prevented the try.

Wales continued to apply pressure and they were extremely unlucky not to score from a shift driving line-out, but a technicality in the shift of the ball prevented the try for James Botham.

It seemed to be a big turning point in the match as Australia were able to release this territorial pressure.

On the 64th minute tight-head Archie Griffin won a turnover on the floor and Wales didn’t back themselves to go for the corner and settled for three points to close the score to 18-16.

Wales then lost talisman fullback Liam Williams to an injury, which forced them into changing their backline.

Both teams nervously exchanged kicks in a kicking battle but one poor kick from Josh Hathaway, which went straight into the hands of new cap Tom Lynagh, allowed the Wallabies to mount a counterattack against a tiring Welsh defence.

Lynagh fed full-back Tom Wright early and he arched around Nick Tompkins on a dummy scissor play and ran 50 metres to score a sensational solo try.

As a rugby fan it was wonderful to witness a full-back smile on his way through the Welsh defence knowing he was going to score a key try for this country.

This try seemed to blow the steam out of the Welsh comeback and they failed to score in the last ten minutes.

Wales tried their best to score another try and they managed to retain possession with good attacking play between the forwards and backs, but lacked that killer instinct to gain more points.

In spite of this eighth consecutive loss for Wales there wasn’t much difference between both teams.

Second cap prop Archie Griffin made an astonishing 26 tackles in his 74 minutes on the pitch. Aaron Wainwright made 15 carries and 16 tackles.

Ben Thomas was solid and new cap Hathaway made 14 carries.

Wales will be relatively content with their line-out first phase attack with Wainwright offering a ball-carrying and ball-passing option. And their line-out maul is continuing to be a force against different opposition.

The team will need to improve their discipline, increase the line-out accuracy and solve the defensive errors in the wide channels if they are to to thrive in Melbourne.

Australia gained revenge from their embarrassing 40-6 defeat at the World Cup and with more time with this experienced coaching team they will get better.

Two Kiwis And One Tight Head-To-Head Record As Wales Take On Australia

Number eight, Rob Valetini, was very prominent in this match with 17 powerful carries and 13 tackles, and he has the potential to be the best eight in world rugby.

Fraser McReight is a Michael Hopper clone, albeit 10 kilograms heavier and looks like he will continue the legacy of outstanding sevens after Hooper, David Pocock and George Smith.

Wales and Australia are both going through some pain off the pitch but the next Test match will be fascinating to watch.

Wales will be hoping to rescue a draw and Australia will be looking to win the series and earn back-to-back victories for the first time since 2021.

Ben Thomas And Josh Hathaway Freshen Up Wales For Australia Test

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