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'They'll be licking their lips': Wounded Wallabies expect Portugal to smell blood

By AAP
Rob Valetini of the Wallabies and team mates look dejected after losing The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Fullback Andrew Kellaway expects Portugal to be “licking their lips” about their World Cup clash with the battered Wallabies, meeting the Australians at their lowest ebb.

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The Wallabies face a final pool match with world No.16 Portugal in Saint-Etienne next Sunday (Monday AEDT), having to rally after their humiliating 40-6 loss to Wales.

The record defeat in Lyon effectively ended Australia’s dreams of a third World Cup title, requiring a miracle result from Fiji’s remaining two pool matches to stay in France beyond the pool stage.

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It will mark the first time in history the Wallabies have failed to progress through to the quarter-finals.

Coach Eddie Jones would have pencilled the Portugal match as a chance to rest his regular starters and give the remaining players in the 33-man squad a run.

But with his job on the line and just one win, over Georgia, Jones has little choice but to pick his best side to try to salvage something from a disastrous World Cup campaign.

Team Form

Last 5 Games

2
Wins
1
1
Streak
1
14
Tries Scored
9
-25
Points Difference
-125
2/5
First Try
2/5
3/5
First Points
0/5
2/5
Race To 10 Points
1/5

The Portuguese won’t be a push-over, losing to unbeaten Wales by 28-8 – a smaller margin than the Australians – while they drew with Georgia in their last match before their bye round.

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Kellaway said that it would be tough week at training after the demoralising defeat.

“Next week’s going to be a tough week, obviously,” said Kellaway, whose first match of the tournament was against Wales.

“We’re hurting now and no doubt Portugal will have seen that and they’ll be licking their lips.

“For us, it’s about making sure we learn the lessons because there were some pretty hefty lessons there to learn but we’ve got to get on with it pretty quick because there’s another game coming up.”

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His message was echoed by five-eighth Ben Donaldson, who had a mixed bag against Wales with some costly errors.

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Donaldson said the Wallabies would soak up the pain and then turn their focus to Portugal to try to finish the tournament on a positive note.

“We’re all thinking about the now (Wales) and we how wanted to perform at this World Cup and how we’ve let everyone down,” said the 24-year-old Sydneysider.

“We’re obviously feeling very hurt right now and we need to feel that for a while because that’s going to make us hungrier.

“You can dwell on it a little bit but we’ve got another game next week and if we don’t move on quick enough we’re not going to perform next week.

“We’re upset and it was a terrible performance but we just take learnings and move forward.”

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