Wales play mind games with wounded Wallabies
WALES coach Warren Gatland has quashed suggestions his side will feel the weight of a decade-long losing streak against the Wallabies this weekend, instead declaring it is Australia under pressure.
The Wallabies have won 13 games straight against Wales, but after a disastrous 2018 they look vulnerable as they begin their spring tour in Cardiff in what will be a vital result before the two teams face off in the pool stage of next year's World Cup in Japan.
Gatland's men defeated Scotland 21-10 last weekend in a timely boost for preparation against Michael Cheika's team, and the Welsh boss cited the Wallabies' lack of results this year as a counterpoint to the losing streak stretching back to 2009.
"It's not about getting the monkey off the back," Gatland said.
"There are games where we've been leading going into the final minutes. Unfortunately, we've been unlucky at times but it would be nice to win next week and get a result.
"But the more important game will be at the World Cup. From a confidence point of view, it will be interesting. They've got their own pressures back home and they need performances and results too."
This is Australia's shortest but most significant northern tour since reaching the 2015 World Cup final.
Only three games will be played; against Wales, Italy and England.
After losing seven of 10 Tests this year and sinking to a record low seventh in the world, the Wallabies are in desperate need of a rapid turnaround.
Cheika and his assistants have been backed by the Rugby Australia board to carry on through to the end of next year's World Cup, however the faith of fans has been steadily dissipating and further losses on tour will heighten the angst.
England also pulled off an upset 12-11 win over South Africa last weekend to relieve pressure on coach Eddie Jones and ensure the old enemy is confident heading into the November 24 showdown against Australia at Twickenham.
Australia has often started their spring tour against Wales and Gatland said the match against Scotland will ensure his side is not underdone for this weekend.
"It's nice to get a hit out rather than being thrown in against a southern hemisphere team coming off The Rugby Championship, which is always a tough ask," Gatland said.
"There are aspects of our game that need to improve. The kicking game will need to improve. But there were also lots of positives and lots to build on."
LUCKY 13: The Wallabies' streak against Wales
- November 28, 2009 (Cardiff): Australia 33 Wales 12
- November 6, 2010 (Cardiff): Australia 25 Wales 16
- October 21, 2011 (Auckland, RWC third-place playoff): Australia 21-18
- December 3, 2011 (Cardiff): Australia 24 Wales 18
- June 9, 2012 (Brisbane): Australia 27 Wales 19
- June 16, 2012 (Melbourne): Australia 25 Wales 23
- June 23, 2012 (Sydney): Australia 20 Wales 19
- December 1, 2012 (Cardiff): Australia 14 Wales 12
- November 30, 2013 (Cardiff): Australia 30 Wales 26
- November 8, 2014 (Cardiff): Australia 33 Wales 28
- October 10, 2015 (London, RWC pool match): Australia 15 Wales 6
- November 5, 2016 (Cardiff): Australia 32 Wales 8
- November 11, 2017 (Cardiff): Australia 29 Wales 21