Wallabies beef up for scrap with Wales
The Wallabies have three short days to hone their skills around the breakdown and muscle up in expectation of a Welsh onslaught after dubious showings against Italy and France.
Those two matches have given Wales all the ammunition they need to snap a seven-test losing streak against Australia and finish a horror year on a high.
Back-rower Aaron Shingler has already indicated the Welsh plan on ''bullying'' the Wallabies with aggressive play, while the side's attack coach, Rob Howley, targeted winning the collisions as a key priority.
''The way you put Southern Hemisphere sides under pressure is being very good in the contact area and the ability to keep ball and go through the phases,'' Howley said. ''Having looked at the tape on the weekend, our game and the [Australian] game, hopefully they won't have the similar line speed they did against Italy that they will have against us. A pleasing aspect of the game on Saturday against New Zealand was our depth and our ability to run hard.''
Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps said the Italians overpowered Australia at the breakdown and scored most of their points off turnover ball in the second half.
''I don't know what was going on with some of the boys or some of the decisions, but we just weren't strong enough over the breakdown, we gave them a real 'in' to the game and they were able to capitalise on that,'' Phipps said. ''We've got to be able to string phases together, it can't be one or two phases and turnover because that's when we get stung ... we need blokes absolutely blowing over the breakdown and leaving the ball on a platter so [Kurtley Beale] and [Adam Ashley-Cooper] and [Ben Tapuai] can work their magic out wide.''
Howley heaped praise on the Wallabies for the most unlikely of traits, calling them ''clinical'' and ''superb'' despite missing world-class players Will Genia and David Pocock.
''They're just a very talented side,'' he said. ''I think that they changed their game slightly over the last couple of weeks ... they are certainly very effective at set-piece, I thought their scrum went particularly well against England and they picked a very good side off in Italy and came off with a very narrow win.''
Four of Wales's past seven losses to Australia were by six points or less, with just one point in their last loss and two points in the test before that.
Howley said those results, as well as the past three losses at home to New Zealand, Samoa and Argentina, showed that Northern Hemisphere sides took time to adapt to the ''pace and intensity and accuracy'' of their southern hemisphere rivals.
''Whether you're the All Blacks or Australia - [and] we saw initially with Argentina, coming off that Rugby Championship - [you] benefit from that week to week intensity and pace, making decisions with less time on the ball, and the accuracy in the game,'' he said. ''Early on Saturday, we struggled with the pace and intensity - that was the feedback we had from our players - but as the game went on, when we got up to that pace and intensity, we felt comfortable.''
That final 20 minutes should sound warning bells for Australia. Wales turned the early dynamic on its head with 73 per cent possession in the second half and two tries off that base.
Echoing Phipps's comments, Wallabies back-rower Scott Higginbotham said Australia needed to throw more resources at the breakdown. ''Maybe we need to commit to the wide breakdown a bit more when we're attacking down the sideline,'' he said
Sydney Morning Herald