RUSS Petty (@RPetty80) is back in the hot-seat with his take on the titanic Pool A tussle between Australia and Wales from Twickenham on Saturday.
Australia v Wales | Saturday 16.45 | ITV1
With both sides already qualified for the quarter-finals, the reward for a win in this match is an extra day off before the knock-out stage, avoiding South Africa and then potentially New Zealand later on.
The Wallabies have won seven of their eight games this year by an average score of 34-16 and Wales nine of 11 by a rate of 28-19.
England struggled at the breakdown against Australia last week but it is expected that Warren Gatland’s team will be more competitive in this area. So far this tournament, Wales have won 32 turnovers while it’s 27 for Australia.
David Pocock was joint-top for turnovers in Super Rugby this season with 29 and then followed that up with eight in three games in the Rugby Championship as well as eight in his two World Cup appearances.
He has made a total of 80 tackles in his previous eight games against Wales, only missing one. The absence of Michael Hooper is significant but he has been alternating starts with his replacement Sean McMahon recently and the Rebels flanker did gain experience on the tour last year.
Wales have made a change to their traditional backrow by including Justin Tipuric, have shifted George North to centre and given a first start to Gareth Anscombe at full-back. Gatland has suggested his team ‘will throw something different’ at their opposition this match and that might be necessary given their record in the fixture.
Australia have won the last 10 games against Wales by an averages score of 25-19. There has been a trend of late scores by the Wallabies against this opponent and this year Michael Cheika’s ‘finishers’ have scored tries in the final 10 minutes in seven of their eight games.
Referee Craig Joubert did award a penalty try against Australia when the teams met last year but they will feel that the perception of their scrum has improved this year. Wales have lost the three previous games against the Wallabies with him in charge and did struggle with his interpretation of rolling away at the breakdown in the 2012 series.
An Australian winning margin of 1-12 points has occurred in the last nine games in this fixture and at the risk of taking the obvious option, I will go for that again at 15/8 with Ladbrokes.
Australia v Wales – Australia to win by 1-12 points (15/8 Ladbrokes)
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