The Australians were in control for most of the contest, save for a brief second half fight back from the Welsh, thanks largely to the incisive running and adept passing game of Will Genia. Genia produced a dominant performance consistently pushing the Wallabies runners over the advantage line and changing the point attack.
However, Genia’s efforts were only possible on the back of a much improved Wallabies pack that played just like that, a pack. Marshalled by break down supremo and captain, David Pocock, the Wallabies forwards worked together and won the lion’s share of contested possession. This meant Genia was able to find some much needed time and space and along with Berrick Barnes ably pulled the strings of their considerably talented backline. Barnes had arguably his best game in the gold jersey and led the Wallabies with composure, including a skilful kick down the touchline for a chasing Cooper Vuna that almost led to a try.
The Wallabies have named an unchanged team for Saturday’s return match against a Wales outfit bent on squaring the ledger. Cooper Vuna and Sekope Kepu are still to pass fitness tests but if they don’t recover the Wallabies are well covered in front row and wing stocks. It would be a good fillip for both the Wallabies and besieged coach Robbie Deans to close out the series on Saturday night against a Welsh outfit widely regarded as the best since their last win on Australian soil 43 years ago.
However, the Welsh are intent to not let them have it all their own way, with a ‘defensive blitz’ set to be unleashed in Melbourne, with Will Genia at the top of the list of targets. Welsh forwards coach, Robyn McBride jokingly saying this week “All our forwards have a photo of Will Genia sitting by their bed. They know who to look out for next time.”
The Wallabies have now won the past five against Wales and the Welsh will be playing in Melbourne for the first time under a closed roof at Etihad Stadium where the Wallabies have an imposing record of nine wins from eleven matches.
Adam Schoenmaker is a high school chaplain in the northern suburbs of Brisbane for three days each week and serves two days a week in his local church. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
Adam Schoenmaker archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/adam-schoenmaker.html