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Winning ‘non-negotiable’ for Wales with unwanted history looming

By PA
Wales' players (red) react after their defeat during the rugby union Test match between Australia and Wales at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on July 6, 2024. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --

Owen Watkin says it is “non-negotiable” that Wales win Saturday’s second Test against Australia in Melbourne.

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Wales face the Wallabies for a second time in eight days, having lost 25-16 last weekend.

That defeat was Wales’ eighth on the bounce and they have not won a Test match since beating 2023 World Cup pool-stage opponents Georgia.

Another defeat against Australia would leave Wales one short of their worst Test run, which was a 10-game sequence in 2002 and 2003 under New Zealander Steve Hansen.

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Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami and back rower Rob Valetini on Wales

Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami and back rower Rob Valetini have spoke to media in Melbourne. Both started in the side’s 25-16 win over Wales last weekend. The pair were both raised in the Victorian capital and played their junior Rugby together at Harlequin Rugby club in the city’s east.

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Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami and back rower Rob Valetini on Wales

Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami and back rower Rob Valetini have spoke to media in Melbourne. Both started in the side’s 25-16 win over Wales last weekend. The pair were both raised in the Victorian capital and played their junior Rugby together at Harlequin Rugby club in the city’s east.

Wales boss Warren Gatland has just a 30 per cent success rate during his second stint as Wales boss, with 14 defeats since he took over from Wayne Pivac for the 2023 Six Nations.

“We were massively disappointed with the (first Test) result because we went into the game fully believing we could win,” Wales centre Watkin said.

Fixture
Internationals
Australia
36 - 28
Full-time
Wales
All Stats and Data

“We left a lot of opportunities out there, but we weren’t happy with the penalty count and the errors we made.

“There is still a positive vibe in the camp and it is now non-negotiable – we need a win on Saturday.

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“We put ourselves in a position to win last weekend, but the penalty and error count let us down. We will try to put that right for Saturday.”

Watkin looks set to win his 41st cap, lining up alongside Mason Grady in midfield and he is a key part of Gatland’s machinery, especially now that George North has retired from international rugby.

Only four players in Wales’ tour squad – full-back Liam Williams, scrum-half Gareth Davies, prop Dillon Lewis and number eight Aaron Wainwright – have played more Tests than the Ospreys centre.

“It was only our second game together,” Watkin added, on his combination with Grady. “He is a massive bloke, so the more times we can get him on the ball the better it will be for us as an attacking team.

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“Hopefully, we can build a partnership into the future.

“They have put a lot of faith in me to lead by example and I am loving taking a senior role. I am enjoying setting the standards and the pressure they have put on me.

“Australia can feel as confident as they like after last weekend’s win. We just concentrate on ourselves. We just fell short last weekend and we don’t want that to happen again.”

Wales’ latest loss saw them drop to 11th place on World Rugby’s official rankings list – their lowest position since its launch 21 years ago.

That comes just five years after Wales briefly held the world number one spot, which underlines their current plight.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said: “We keep challenging our players to improve individually and collectively.

“We back our players’ decisions. We hope at some point through that experience of these players playing more international games, we will get over the line.

“We have to keep knocking at the door, working hard, trusting the systems and keep believing.”

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Comments

4 Comments
F
Flankly 2 days ago

Because they are prepared to negotiate the outcomes of other games? Funny.

T
Thomas 2 days ago

What a silly bombastic statement.

J
John 2 days ago

How is it non-negotiable? What happens if Wales lose? Will anybody be dropped? Will any of the coaches lose their jobs? No. It’s just another routine day at the office with no consequences at all.

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Tom 59 minutes ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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