Wales must now end their Australia jinx after seeing off Scotland in inaugural Doddie Weir Cup win
- Wales overcame Scotland in their first game of the autumn internationals, 21-10
- Warren Gatland says Wales would struggle against Australia with same display
- Wales face the Aussies next Saturday at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff
- The Wallabies have recorded 13 wins in a row against Wales in the last 10 years
One curse lifted, Wales are out to break another jinx next week. Not since Gethin Jenkins’ debut 16 years ago against Romania had the Welsh won an autumn opener until this Saturday.
A straight-forward, if slightly underwhelming, win against Scotland means annual talk of slow starts has finally been banished.
The focus of Wales’ Under Armour autumn Tests was never going to be on this first match. An out-of-window match against a Six Nations opponent with English-based players unavailable, the Principality Stadium 10,000 short of full capacity and with the surrounding furore – finally solved – over donations to Doddie Weir’s motor neurone disease foundation, this was an odd-feeling match.
Wales triumphed in their opening autumn international against Scotland in Cardiff
Win it, move on, build momentum. Warren Gatland has been at pains to point out that this November is about conditioning, skill work and fitness with preparations for the World Cup – rather than necessarily results – paramount.
Yet despite this he and all Welshmen know how important beating Australia would be next Saturday.
The Wallabies have beaten Wales 13 times in a row over 10 years and are in their World Cup pool next year.
They are also in a terrible trot having lost seven times in 10 Tests this year, lose twice more and it will equal their worst year in history.
By contrast Wales have won six on the spin now, a run which they have only ever bettered five times in 137 years of Tests, and Gatland is already dreaming of a first ever autumn clean sweep this century.
Warren Gatland believes Wales must improve for their clash with Australia next weekend
‘I think from a confidence perspective if we can go and win next week, then you look at Tonga and it would be brilliant for us if we could get four from four in the autumn,’ he said. ‘We are building some nice depth in the squad and some real confidence, guys really competing for positions.
‘It’s two things, it’s wanting to do well in this autumn, but the big picture is the next 12 months building for the Six Nations and the World Cup after that.
‘To be honest, if we came up against Australia I think we would have struggled, just with them having come off the Rugby Championship.
‘Australia have their own pressures back home and need performances and results, so it should be interesting next weekend.
‘Having that game today makes it a lot better for us. There have been times out here – like when Kurtley Beale scored in the last minute – and when we conceded a penalty late on in Australia, and other games we have been leading, we needed that run today so it is a really good opportunity for us.’
Gareth Anscombe warned Wales must improve ahead of next Saturday’s Test with Australia
There were a few of encouraging moments for Wales against Scotland. George North looked back to his powerful best when scoring, Jonathan Davies’ try saw him return to Test form after a horrible foot injury meant he has missed the last year of internationals, and that Scotland did not manage a point from the 36th minute onwards was heartening for them – but fly-half Gareth Anscombe warned they must improve.
‘We will have to be a hell of a lot better than we were tonight,’ he said. ‘They have had a pretty long season and are battle hardened. They have had the wood (wins) over Wales in the last few years.
‘They are an exciting team and have had their recent defeats that have put them under a bit of pressure but they will come here and be pretty positive.
‘Being away from home will probably be good for them. We know where we need to be against the Wallabies so hopefully we can give it a good crack.’
Wales have a poor record against Australia and will be looking to put that right
Australia overcame Wales 29-21 in their meeting at the Principality Stadium last year
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