By Rhys Thomas
October 20 2011
Wales have a chance to equal their best ever position at a World Cup tomorrow. Can they pull together and beat the Australians?
The bronze medal match is the one nobody wants to play. We want to be playing on Sunday, in the biggest game in the Rugby calendar. Alas, it was not to be, and we will be playing the Australians in the third place play-off.
This is a repeat of the 1987 game, when a late Paul Thorburn kick secured a 22-21 win. It will also be repeated in December of this year, when we welcome Australia to the Millennium Stadium in a one-off test. Although many write this game off as a waste of time, for Wales it is a valuable game. It’s a chance to salvage some pride, and to beat one of the big nations, something this young side has so far failed to do. Both teams have fantastic sets of backs, and with players like George North and Digby Ioane who have lit up the tournament we should be in for a treat.
However, we have been deprived of one huge match up, potentially the biggest in the tournament -the battle of the 7s, Sam Warburton vs David Pocock. Sam’s red in the semi-final and subsequent ban put paid to that, but it will still be interesting to see how Wales neutralise the threat of the openside flanker.
Australia gave everything against South Africa in the quarter-finals, but couldn’t hit the same heights against the All Blacks in the semis. Quade Cooper looked lost, and the rest of their team took a beating. Wales can do this, but are missing three key players. Adam Jones, Rhys Priestland and the aforementioned Warburton are all missing. Wales were weak at fly-half last week, and Gatland has put his faith again in James Hook, who probably had his worst game in a Wales shirt against the French. Jones will be a loss to the scrum, and that is an area in particular where the Australians aren’t particularly strong. The Captain’s influence is gone, but the team can still stay strong. A precedent has been set, and the rest of the team know what is at stake, and won’t mess it up now.
A victory would lay down a marker to the rest of the world, albeit a week too late. It would show that we can beat the best, and that we are a team to be feared for the future and beyond. It would be a great morale boost after the intense disappointment of last week, and I have faith that the boys can pull together and secure the win.
PREDICTION: Wales to win by 8
Quote:Garky, the Evil Badger
One thing, and one thing alone to say about this - and that's
All the best from
GARKY THE EVIL BADGER