LYON, France (Reuters) – Wales coach Warren Gatland said his side will be desperate but for the right reasons when they face a Wallabies team bidding to maintain their World Cup campaign in Lyon on Sunday.
After winning bonus points over Fiji and Portugal in their first two matches, Wales can qualify for the quarter-finals if they beat Australia, whose loss to Fiji last week opened the third group wide open.
However, anything short of a win for Wales could end up in a three-way tie at the top, with the two places in the knockout rounds decided by a tie-break.
“It definitely feels desperate for us,” Gatland said at a news conference in Paris.
“Losing or not having points, it could come down to the points difference. This is the last place we want to be in.
“When you work so hard, why would you put yourself in that situation? The most desperate teams can let the pressure get to them. We’re desperate for the right reasons.”
Gatland returned to the starting line-up that beat Fiji 32-26 in their World Cup opener, recalling starting full-back Dan Biggar, Liam Williams, Nick Tompkins and George North after resting them in the 28-8 win over Portugal.
“I think there was an opportunity for the players against Portugal, but we felt that the team against Fiji did what we asked for,” he said.
“I don’t think we got enough credit for the Fiji game. I was really happy with that performance. It was our longest game and we were in control for 65 minutes.”
Ryan Elias retains the starting spot at hooker in preference to co-captain Dewi Lake, who failed to make the bench with Elliot Dee named as back-up.
“He was disappointed,” Gatland said of Lake. “He didn’t have much rugby.”
Prop Henry Thomas comes off the bench as cover for Thomas Francis after recovering from a lower leg injury, and looks set to make his World Cup debut at OL Stadium.
Open winger Tommy Revell, who also had a leg injury and pulled out late from the Portugal game, was replaced by Tyne Basham on the bench.
“Against Fiji we created some good chances. We’ve done that in both games so far,” Gatland added.
“I don’t think much will change. We’ve talked a lot about how we’re going to attack Australia. It’s going to be a tough game with both of us looking to progress.”
Team: 15-Liam Williams, 14-Lewis Rees-Zammit, 13-George North, 12-Nick Tompkins, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Gareth Davies, 8-Taulope Faletau, 7-Jack Morgan (captain) . ) 6- Aaron Wainwright, 5- Adam Bird, 4- Will Rowlands, 3- Thomas Francis, 2- Ryan Elias, 1- Gareth Thomas
Subs: 16-Elliott D, 17-Corey Domachowski, 18-Henry Thomas, 19-David Jenkins, 20-Tyne Basham, 21-Tomos Williams, 22-Gareth Anscombe, 23-Rio Dier.
Reporting by Nick Mulvaney, Editing by Toby Davis
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