Wales v Australia - Autumn international match preview
Last Updated: 01/12/12 8:39pm
Wales head coach Warren Gatland admits that victory over Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday will not mask an otherwise disappointing autumn internationals campaign.
Gatland's side welcome the Wallabies to Cardiff this weekend having lost their three previous matches against Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand respectively.
The hosts need to return to winning ways in order to avoid a November whitewash of four defeats and to preserve their place among the world's top eight-ranked teams prior to Monday's 2015 World Cup draw in London.
"We have always tried to be very honest in terms of our expectations," said Gatland, who has bolstered his pack with the inclusion of Gethin Jenkins, Scott Andrews and Aaron Shingler.
"A win on Saturday would be nice, but we would still be disappointed with not winning the first two games (against Argentina and Samoa). We won't hide away from that fact.
"It has been a learning curve for players and coaches, in particular for some of the younger players.
"They've had to learn to cope with some team criticism, some personal criticism, and that is part of professional sport."
Gatland was forced into a late change when Ian Evans failed a fitness test on a knee injury. Cardiff Blues' Lou Reed replaced Evans in the second row.
Australia head into the match buoyed by back-to-back victories over England and Italy and with inspirational flanker David Pocock back in their side following a lengthy injury lay-off.
And head coach Robbie Deans is wary of a backlash from Wales, saying: "There's very little between us. There are not too many surprises in international rugby. In and since the World Cup, defences have ramped up and part of that is in the conditioning and Wales are one of the most conditioned.
"Wales will throw everything at us, no doubt. This is our last outing and we don't want to go into summer unhappy with our last performance.
"It's the last opportunity for our group before the Lions and also the Wales players to present themselves."
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips; 1 Gethin Jenkins, 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Scott Andrews, 4 Lou Reed, 5 Luke Charteris, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Sam Warburton (capt), 8 Toby Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Scott Williams.
Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps; 1 Benn Robinson, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 3 Ben Alexander, 4 Kane Douglas, 5 Nathan Sharpe (capt), 6 Scott Higginbotham, 7 David Pocock, 8 Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Digby Ioane.
Wales v Australia
Robbie Deans said Australia's last-minute victory over Wales was a fitting end to "a game that had everything."
Coach Warren Gatland admits the Wales team was "gutted" to lose 14-12 to Australia.
Kurtley Beale's last-minute try gave Australia a 14-12 victory over Wales, who have now lost their last seven Tests.