Key Clash Preview: Brumbies v Wales
Date: 12th June 2012
Kickoff: 10:30 (BST, 19:30 local)
Referee: Ian Smith
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Shorn of their Wallaby stars the Brumbies still have plenty of talent on show for this midweek match against a second string Wales side. Many are rested but the impressive Zack Holmes and Robbie Coleman will be on show in the backs whilst Colby Faingaa, brother of Wallaby stars Saia and Anthony, can be found at openside flanker. In what has been a surprisingly good season for Jake White’s team, this will represent a great challenge.
Following the disappointing defeat in the 1st Test, Rob Howley has gone for a strong side to take on the Brumbies with some players – Ashley Beck, Justin Tipuric and James Hook – all on the fringes of selection for the Test side. In fact, injuries to Scott Williams and Rhys Priestland’s poor form make Hook and Beck certainties if they can perform through the first half. Alun Wyn Jones leads the side at lock.
What to Expect:
Given their number of test caps, anything less than complete dominance from Wales in the scrum and lineout would be concerning. Richard Hibbard and Paul James are more than competent in this area whilst little is known outside of Canberra regarding Ruaidrhi Murphy, Anthony Hegarty and Scott Sio. Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones will face a sterner test against Brumbies captain Ben Hand. The back row of Peter Kimlin, Faingaa and Ita Vaea have impressed in Super Rugby, but Justin Tipuric could dominate at the breakdown.
In the backs however Wales should be stronger, with Beck and Andrew Bishop in the midfield and exciting youngsters Harry Robinson and Liam Williams in the back three. Robbie Coleman showed great promise in his debut season last year but injury has stuttered his form this season. He remains a threat however.
Head to Head: Zack Holmes & James Hook
Holmes has only been in the Brumbies hot seat for a few weeks in Super Rugby but impressed in wins over the Hurricanes and the Rebels. His impact has come at a great time for the Brumbies with Christian Lealifano out injured, but this will arguably be his greatest challenge so far in a Brumbies shirt. It will also be a strong measure of his potential seeing him take on James Hook. For many Hook remains an inside centre but Wales are suddenly uncertain at fly-half given Priestland’s lack of temperament. Tuesday is his chance.
Ones to Watch: Colby Faingaa & Harry Robinson
Highly rated and set to follow in his brothers footsteps, Colby is the youngest Faingaa on the Super Rugby scene. He has been overshadowed this season on the openside by the impressive Michael Hooper, but with his team-mate away with the Wallabies, Tuesday is a big chance for him. Harry Robinson took his chance well enough against the Barbarians to be hailed as the next Shane Williams. No pressure then…
The quality of the Welsh 22 suggests this will be a comfortable win on their tour, but don’t rule out the Brumbies young stars. Fortunately, no great monsoon is forecast such as in last week’s game in Newcastle.
by Ben Coles