Wales’ comfortable win over Scotland was a solid platform for them to win their first opening autumn test for 16 years, but if they are to back it up against Australia the Wales gameplan must strengthen, writes Robert Rees.
Scotland victory a good working platform
A good win over the Scots is merely a confidence booster going forward. Both teams with players missing and in a game where both teams appeared rusty for large periods of the game.
Scotland didn’t look like scoring apart from their sole driving lineout, despite having the larger chunk of possession and territory. Wales had clearly worked hard on defence and it paid dividends.
Wales carried extremely well in attack and utilised a strong set piece with two young props. Anscombe led the line well and quietly set Wales on their attacks. It’s how Wales utilise Anscombe as to where Wales gameplan must strengthen when Australia roll into town.
Aimless kicking must stop
Wales kicked far too often throughout. 41 kicks from hand, most of which came from the half backs gave Scotland attacking ball. Luckily for Wales they kicked it back 33 times, negating the threat Wales could have offered them.
Australia’s backline is far more frugal and experienced to know how to deal with so much ball. They’ll run it back more times than they’ll kick. Wales cannot afford to gift Australia possession and so if Gatland goes with a territory game then the ball must leave the field.
The aimless box kick was also a feature of Wales’ game against Scotland. Gareth Davies at scrum half utilised his forwards well, but far too often box kicked to the three quarter line. With weapons like Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau in their backs Wales can’t be releasing possession of the ball as easily as they did in their opener.
Squad retention key for cohesion
Wales’ performance doesn’t warrant dropping many players, if any players. Rob Evans will likely come in for Nicky Smith and will ensure the scrum and breakdown is further solidified, although Smith did a superb job around the park.
Liam Williams will be available for selection and should slide on to the wing in place of Luke Morgan who was given a very quiet game. Ellis Jenkins remains an injury doubt, but if fit could well be set to feature on the bench.
Barring any injuries the rest of the squad should stay as they are. Hopefully Tomos Williams will be set for some more game time, but that could largely rely on what the scoreline is late on.
Forward carrying must continue
Wales utilised their forwards to perfection on Saturday. The carrying and work in the tight and the loose was superb. It’s something that the world leading teams do and it’s something Wales must keep working on if they are to be contenders at next year’s World Cup.
The back row looked dangerous going forward, but solid in defence. The second row partnership is definitely the best one for Wales at the moment and a great all round front row performance. Something mimicking the great, retiring Gethin Jenkins’ résumé.
If Wales can involve the centres earlier then they can trouble Australia a lot more by utilising their weapons outside, especially with Liam Williams set to return.
Wales win a must for confidence
If Cymru are to win then the Wales gameplan must strengthen. Not only to place them two wins from two in the autumn series, but to give them a huge confidence boost and breakdown a barrier of losing to Australia as they head to the World Cup.
If Wales are to progress then they’ll have to beat a side like Australia, if not the side themselves. Releasing the long term shackles may be crucial for future successes.
Wales vs. Australia
Saturday 10th November
5.20pm kick off
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images