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Australia v Wales - 2nd Test preview: Schmidt's side can win again

3 minute read

The Joe Schmidt era as Wallabies boss started with a hard earned win over Wales and it should be a case of more of the same in Melbourne on Saturday.

Picture: bet365

The Welsh are familiar foes for Schmidt given his history with Ireland, and it was a proper battle in Sydney first up last weekend.

The Wallabies had to win some big moments to stay on top and had a magnificent game-winning try from fullback Tom Wright in the second half to thank as they came down on the right side of a 25-16 scoreline.

The show moves on to Melbourne and Schmidt's team are 1.22 to win the game, while Wales can be backed at 4.33 and the tie is available at 26.00.

. What: Australia v Wales
. Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
. When: 19:45 (AEST), Saturday 13th July 2024
. How to watch: Stan Sport
. Odds: Australia 1.22, Wales 4.33

Grit rather than glamour for Schmidt's debut

There's no doubting the Schmidt era began in gritty fashion last weekend in Sydney as opposed to any flamboyant rugby.

That, however, is something the Kiwi has in his armour. Schmidt-led teams tend to be well coached. Every player knows what is required, knows what the job is, and it is the collective effort that will return the richest dividends for the Wallabies while Schmidt is overseeing things.

He has an extensive playbook and is well versed at bringing out what is best for the scenario in front of him.

Right now, that probably means winning and very little else. This Wallabies side was at a low ebb when Schmidt inherited a post-World Cup malaise from Eddie Jones.

The first building block on the way back to the top – Australia are 8.00 to win the World Cup in 2027 – is to install a winning mentality within the squad.

That is going to be a priority early on, something Schmidt will sacrifice flair in place of, at least in the short term. It was a nine-point winning margin for the Wallabies in the first Test at a similar outcome is likely. Australia are 5.00 to win by 6-10 points in Melbourne.

New look Wallabies

The final nail in Jones' coffin was a 40-6 mauling at the World Cup in France from Wales.

Only seven players from that defeat survived the cull, as the new Wallabies boss made a statement last weekend.

Jeremy Williams, Josh Flook, Isaac Kailea, Angus Blyth, Charlie Cale and Tom Lynagh all impressed on debut, while Liam Wright and Filipo Daugunu looked good back in gold jerseys.

Schmidt is likely to hold close to the same 23 for this second Test, as he seeks to get momentum on his side.

Fullback Wright scored a magnificent match-winning try last week, scampering some 68 meters before touching down, an ideal return for the Queensland Reds player.

Wales can improve in Melbourne

Warren Gatland suffered the ignominy of an eighth Test loss in a row for his Welsh side last time.

Gatland suggested afterwards it is "just where we are at the moment" after Wales slumped to statistically their worst position in World Rugby's rankings, dropping to 11th and outside the top ten for the first time in the 21-year history of the rankings.

It was a 14th defeat in 20 games during Gatland's second stint as head coach.

The Wallabies won't be sucked into believing Wales are going to accept their lot for the second Test. There were plenty big moments that, had they gone another way, would have tipped the game in the Welsh direction.

Centre Owen Watkin says a win for Wales over Australia in Saturday's second Test is "non-negotiable" so the playing squad clearly expected to kick on.

Wales are 2.87 to lead after 20 minutes in Melbourne, they may have their bit between their teeth now but the Wallabies should manage to back up last week's showing and a 1-12 point home is priced at 2.37.

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