Howley resists wielding the axe as Wales remain unchanged

AUSTRALIA V WALES (Third Test, Saturday, KO 6.05 BST)

WALES caretaker coach Rob Howley has resisted the temptation to wield the axe and has named an unchang-ed side for Saturday’s third Test against Australia.

A number of players were sweating on their places after last weekend’s late 25-23 loss in Melbourne ensured the Wallabies wrapped up the series with one to play.

There were calls in some quarters for hooker Matthew Rees, lock Bradley Davies, fly-half Rhys Priestland and centre Ashley Beck to drop out of the starting XV in Sydney, while there was also strong support for in-form Justin Tipuric to come in on the openside for skipper Sam Warburton.

However, Howley has opted not to tinker with his line-up and has given his charges a shot at redemption after wasting a golden opportunity for a first win against the Wallabies on Australian shores since 1969.

“We know what we have to do to beat Australia, but there is a difference between knowing how to win and achieving that aim,” said Howley.

“This Wales team was within around 30 seconds of beating the Wallabies on their home patch for the first time in 43 years.

“The challenge now is to go one better than that and make sure we are ahead on the scoreboard, not just when the hooter goes but when the game finishes this weekend.

“The players can take some credit for the way they played for the large part of the match last Saturday but that will be scant consolation if we don’t come home with a win in this series.

“We have risen to our highest position (fourth) in the IRB world rankings because of our performances so far this season, which can have positive repercussions for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but now we want to stay there and that means coming away with spoils on Saturday," added Howley.

There is just one change to the matchday squad with hooker Ken Owens replacing Richard Hibbard on the bench.

That decision has echoes of the way that Alix Popham was ruthlessly dropped by Warren Gatland because of a lack of on-field discipline in the 2007 Six Nations win against England at Twickenham, a game that proved to be the number eight’s last cap.

Hibbard was penalised twice in the closing stages to help the Wallabies claim their dramatic win.

First he charged into a ruck from the side deep in Australia territory and then he dragged down the maul from the resulting lineout, allowing Mike Harris to slot over the winning penalty.

WALES TEAM

15 Leigh Halfpenny

14 Alex Cuthbert

13 Jonathan Davies

12 Ashley Beck

11 George North

10 Rhys Priestland

9 Mike Phillips

1 Gethin Jenkins

2 Matthew Rees

3 Adam Jones

4 Bradley Davies

5 Alun Wyn Jones

6 Dan Lydiate

7 Sam Warburton (captain)

8 Ryan Jones

Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, James Hook, Scott Williams

Comments (4)

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9:16am Thu 21 Jun 12

the dork says...

Poor Rhys P is right out of form but with no Biggar and Hookie defensively frail there is no obvious alternative out there. We must change it quickly however after 20 mins or so if it is not working even if they move Halfpenny up to 10. Its a confidence thing.
Poor Rhys P is right out of form but with no Biggar and Hookie defensively frail there is no obvious alternative out there. We must change it quickly however after 20 mins or so if it is not working even if they move Halfpenny up to 10. Its a confidence thing. the dork

2:42pm Thu 21 Jun 12

Robert Shillabeer says...

The Dork is right Rhys P has been well below par on this tour and perhaps someone else (not to mention names but Bigger played quite well in the Wales game against the BarBars. Oops siad his name, go and stand in the corner for ten seconds and say after me don't give too much praise to anyone who the WRU coaches didn't see fit to take with them). I prefer Halfpenny at full back as he seems to thrive there and by giving Hook the responsibility he should do reasonably well or as a last resort change it around but by then it will probably be far to late and Wales will have suffered a whitewash.
The Dork is right Rhys P has been well below par on this tour and perhaps someone else (not to mention names but Bigger played quite well in the Wales game against the BarBars. Oops siad his name, go and stand in the corner for ten seconds and say after me don't give too much praise to anyone who the WRU coaches didn't see fit to take with them). I prefer Halfpenny at full back as he seems to thrive there and by giving Hook the responsibility he should do reasonably well or as a last resort change it around but by then it will probably be far to late and Wales will have suffered a whitewash. Robert Shillabeer

3:52pm Thu 21 Jun 12

corpardguy says...

Priestland should have 20 mins to stake his claim to the rest of the match. If he carries on the same vien as last week,.... off with him and on with Hooky.
Same with the line outs, we finally have a good bench, use it!
Priestland should have 20 mins to stake his claim to the rest of the match. If he carries on the same vien as last week,.... off with him and on with Hooky. Same with the line outs, we finally have a good bench, use it! corpardguy

11:18am Fri 22 Jun 12

mikeyd says...

I agree with corpardguy, Hook should be no 10. Priestland to kick ball to opposition with a minute to go was unbelievable!! Wallabies and all Southern hemphisphere sides strive on ball being kicked to them only to run attacking opposition! Come on boys! My neighbours are laughing at me! Lol
I agree with corpardguy, Hook should be no 10. Priestland to kick ball to opposition with a minute to go was unbelievable!! Wallabies and all Southern hemphisphere sides strive on ball being kicked to them only to run attacking opposition! Come on boys! My neighbours are laughing at me! Lol mikeyd

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