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Saturday 10 December 2016

Wales boss Warren Gatland: 'We're desperate to beat Australia

Warren Gatland's men are ramping up their World Cup preparations
Warren Gatland's men are ramping up their World Cup preparations

Warren Gatland says World Cup quarter-finalists Wales are “desperate” to win tomorrow’s Pool A decider against Australia at Twickenham.

Although both teams are already through to the last-eight, the group winners would then face Scotland or Japan, while the runners-up tackle twice world champions South Africa.

Wales, though, have got it all to do, having lost their last 10 Tests against Australia and not beaten them since 2008.

“We are desperate to win this game, as win this group and potentially your road through to quarters, semis and final is a little bit easier than the the other side of the draw,” Wales head coach Gatland said.

“We’re desperate to finish off well and win this group, and hopefully give ourselves potentially a second seed team in the quarter-finals.

“The last five times against Australia there has been a score in it. We’ve been ahead in games and not been able to finish it off.

“You learn from that, and experience comes from that and it showed in the autumn against South Africa. We closed that game down, and were brilliant in the last 15 minutes against England (12 days ago), coming from behind and showing maturity to close that game down.”

Gatland has made six changes to his team, with a first Test start for New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe, who features at full-back, while Liam Williams returns after concussion on the wing and George North switches to outside centre as Jamie Roberts’ midfield partner.

Elsewhere, prop Paul James returns from injury and replaces Gethin Jenkins, Samson Lee wears the number three shirt, Luke Charteris features at lock and skipper Sam Warburton moves to blindside flanker, with openside Justin Tipuric handed a start.

North and Warburton both make positional switches, and elsewhere, Gatland has retained an in-form half-back combination of Dan Biggar and Gareth Davies, but flanker Dan Lydiate does not feature in the match-day 23, with Gloucester’s Ross Moriarty providing back-row bench cover.

Reflecting on Lydiate’s absence, Gatland added: “He got a knock on the eye last weekend.

“I spoke to him on Monday and said if we were playing the final we would have picked you, but we don’t want that to get any more sore.

Tipuric’s promotion to the starting XV is no surprise, considering his outstanding form.

With strong-running wing North in the centre - he has played there previously for Wales - Newport Gwent Dragons prospect Tyler Morgan drops out.

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