Wales’ destiny in their own hands – 5 talking points ahead of Australia showdown

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Wales will book a place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals if they beat Australia in Lyon on Sunday.

They are guaranteed to progress with a third successive Pool C win, but the Wallabies will be on the brink of elimination if they lose.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some key talking points heading into the game.

Wales control their destiny

Bonus-point victories over Fiji and Portugal mean that Wales are in charge of their pool. If they defeat Australia it will be a case of mission accomplished in terms of reaching the quarter-finals for a fourth World Cup on the bounce under head coach Warren Gatland. Wales have not hit top gear yet, but a return of 10 points is a record matched only by Ireland across all four groups. Gatland’s team can get the job done with a game to spare – they face Georgia in Nantes on October 7 – by beating the Wallabies and setting up a potential last-eight appointment with England or Argentina.


Eddie Jones in the firing line

Australia have an outstanding World Cup record. In nine previous stagings of the competition they can reflect on two world titles, two runners-up finishes, a third and fourth-place return, plus three quarter-final appearances. A first pool-stage exit now looms, though, unless they can recover from losing to Fiji last weekend and topple Wales. Head coach and former England boss Eddie Jones has received some fierce criticism from ex-internationals, but the storm will really rage if Wales leave them teetering on the brink of elimination. Australia have effectively reached a point of no return.

Wales’ forwards hold the key

The Wales pack had some strong moments against Fiji and Portugal, yet there were also inconsistencies, especially at lineouts. Wales must iron out the flaws, and if they can manage that then strong foundations for victory should be laid. Australia’s cause up-front is not helped by the absence of powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou and equally-influential lock Will Skelton through injuries. Their experience will be missed. The old adage of ‘forwards win matches, backs decide by how much’ rings true for an eagerly-awaited encounter.

Dan Biggar can boss the game

Sunday’s clash is made for Wales fly-half Dan Biggar. Time and time again throughout his 110-cap Test career, Biggar has delivered the goods. He relishes the big occasion, and they do not come with much more importance attached than this weekend, when stakes are high and pressure at its most intense. Wales will require a calming influence, an unruffled tactical operator, pinpoint goal-kicker and world-class leadership in the heat of battle, and Biggar ticks all of those boxes. Expect him to be a dominant figure.


Louis Rees-Zammit on a roll

If Biggar can guide the team effectively and purposefully around the pitch, then Wales have outstanding finishers to punish Australia. George North, Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit boast 78 Test tries between them, and they all scored during Wales’ opening two games against Fiji and Portugal. Rees-Zammit touched down in both, with his finish – and Cristiano Ronaldo-style celebration – during the Portugal win underlining a player whose confidence levels are brimful. Australia will know all about the danger he poses, but stopping him is another matter.

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