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Wales vow to play free-flowing Australia's game

The outstanding David Pocock crosses for an Australia' try against Wales last year
Wales say they are desperate for revenge for last year's hammering

Wales have promised to match the thrilling running rugby played by Australia when they meet on Saturday.

The Wallabies have embraced the new law directives in the game more fully than anyone and recorded a scintillating 26-24 win over New Zealand last week.

Injury-hit Wales' advantage would seem to be in the front five, but defence coach Shaun Edwards has vowed to keep an all-action running style in Cardiff.

"When we get ball we'll have a crack at them, absolutely," said Edwards.

"That's not to say we won't kick when needed - if we just ran everything that would be suicidal.

Elsom ready for Wales challenge

"Australia are a very formidable outfit at the moment. Even in the Tri Nations they were the team playing the most rugby, although New Zealand won more.

"The way they are trying to play is great for the development of rugby and for people who like to watch running rugby.

"They are an incredibly difficult team to try to defend against, but we are up for the challenge and very determined to redress what happened against them the last time we played."

Many made Wales favourites for last November's meeting at the Millennium Stadium, but the Wallabies crushed coach Warren Gatland's side 33-12.

That prompted Gatland to say that Wales were going back to the drawing board, abandoning the attacking style that brought them the 2008 Grand Slam for a more pragmatic approach including a stronger kicking game.

Quade Cooper in action in Australia's thrilling win over New Zealand
Fly-half Quade Cooper is central to Australia's dynamic style of play

But in the last 12 months the southern hemisphere sides have adapted to new International Rugby Board directives that have helped running rugby, notably by favouring the attacking side at the breakdown and by enforcing the offside rule after kicks.

"Teams have again been given the ability to play to the style that suits them," said Australia coach Robbie Deans. "That's what rugby is all about."

In the long term it is generally felt that the law directives will be to Wales' advantage, but Gatland has lost players like Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Lee Byrne and Leigh Halfpenny from his back line, while the back row is also down to the bare bones.

With Australia's weakness felt to be in the front five - an area where Wales can call on players like Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Matthew Rees, Alun Wyn Jones and Bradley Davies - there had been a feeling that Gatland could rein in his team's attacking instincts.

But Edwards has promised that his side will treat the supporters to a free-flowing spectacle as they seek to gain revenge for last year's defeat.

"[Australia] were very dominant last time and that still hurts," said Edwards. "We hope to give a lot better account of ourselves and put on a better show for the fans.

"It's fantastic that teams are going to come and play rugby at the Millennium Stadium, to try to break us down.

"There will be two teams playing running rugby - and if you had said that 12 months ago when kicking was dominating you would probably look like you'd gone insane.

"The game has changed so much in that time and everyone has got a smile on their face because of that."

Hook 'would prefer midfield spot'

But former Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half Robert Jones says the approach could put Wales at a disadvantage.

"[The Tri Nations sides] are 12 months ahead of us in terms of the law changes," he told the Scrum V rugby programme.

"[Australia have] without doubt the best back line in world rugby. The axis at 10 and 12 between Quade Cooper and Matt Giteau is fantastic, these two guys make things happen.

"[But] Cooper does make a lot of mistakes because he tries so much, and he's not the bravest of defenders."

Another former Wales captain, ex-flanker Gwyn Jones, added: "Australia's attitude [to the law tweaks] has been extreme.

"They kick less than any international team and integral to their fluid style of play are their tricky players at nine, 10 and 12.

"Wales must fly up defensively to cut down space and blast their pitiful scrum."



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see also
Gatland's faith in Wales rookies
04 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Wales 'should lower expectations'
01 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Australia 26-24 New Zealand
30 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
'Awesome' Rees hailed by Jenkins
27 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Hook happy to fill Wales 15 shirt
26 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Law tweaks set up Wales for glory
25 Aug 10 |  Welsh
Wales 12-33 Australia
28 Nov 09 |  Welsh


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