Having ran them so close in the World Cup third place play-off, Wales will no doubt be looking to capitalise on the significant home advantage after a wonderful tournament in New Zealand eventually left them with nothing to show for their significant effort and skill. It could have so easily been different and seems hard to believe that the Welsh were defeated three times at the World Cup by a combined total of just 5 points.
Still, such are the margins between winning and losing in top-level sport and a Saturday afternoon at the home of Welsh of rugby will present a very different proposition for the Wallabies. Australia come into the game brimming with confidence after obliterating a band of world-class internationals in the Barbarians last weekend. With PUMA’s James O’Connor sparkling in the number 10 shirt, coach Robbie Deans will want another repeat of the commanding performance shown by the 21 year-old in his first full Test at fly-half.
Wales have promised their defensive effort will not allow the Wallabies as much time and space as they were given against the Baa-Baas and will be targeting the Aussie playmakers at 10 and 12. The Welsh side is further strengthened by the return of their inspirational young captain and their first choice kicker who missed out on the side’s last encounter through injury.
The Australian coach has also warned his team that Welsh passions will be running high as Warren Gatland’s men give 110% to say goodbye to Shane Williams in winning style: “"I have no doubts that the Welsh lads will be feeling just the same this week as we did in Auckland. Emotion plays a powerful role in competitive sport."
Then there’s the man of the moment…with his farewell messages inscribed on his PUMA v1.11’s, the Welsh wizard is raring to unleash his bag of tricks one last time in front of an adoring crowd of 74,000. Let’s hope he goes out with a deserved bang…solo try in the final minutes?? Anything’s possible for Shane Williams!
Thanks for the memories Shane!!