herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Cuthbert's confident

Alex Cuthbert has no doubt that Wales are "there or thereabouts" in their continued quest to claim a major southern hemisphere scalp.

Cuthbert and company have one final chance for 2014 on Saturday when South Africa arrive at the Millennium Stadium.

It is six years and 26 Tests since Wales last beat the Springboks, New Zealand or Australia, although they looked on course to end that dismal sequence against the All Blacks last weekend, leading 16-15 with 11 minutes left.

But the world champions responded in devastating fashion, rattling up 19 unanswered points during a seven-minute spell when Wales' victory hopes spectacularly unravelled.

"They are a totally different team to New Zealand," Wales wing Cuthbert said. "Myself and everyone thought we were going to go on and win that game (against New Zealand) with 11 minutes to go. We felt they had thrown quite a lot at us and we felt we had held them out.

"You could see they were getting a bit frustrated at times, and we just needed to control the game. I would be worried if we were getting thumped by 40 points. We are there or thereabouts."

David Wilson has urged England to end a frustrating autumn on a high by overcoming World Cup group rivals Australia in Saturday's final QBE International at Twickenham.

A flawed 28-9 victory over Samoa has eased the pressure building after five successive defeats, albeit each of them inflicted by southern hemisphere powerhouses New Zealand and South Africa.

Autumn respectability now hinges on the outcome against the Wallabies with victory offering a measure of redemption after the losses to the All Blacks and Springboks and defeat amplifying talk of a crisis 10 months out from the World Cup.

Wilson understands the stakes are high but feels England will benefit from having spent a fifth week together as they seek to land a psychological blow on their old foes ahead of their seismic Group A showdown at Twickenham on October 3 next year.

"We've played some quality sides in New Zealand and South Africa and we're disappointed to have lost," Bath tighthead prop Wilson said. "The pressure is on to win every international, but if we beat Australia it would make the autumn a lot sweeter.

Nerves

"We've performed well but haven't done well enough to be on the right side of the scoreboard. Beating Samoa will have eased the nerves a bit and the longer you're in camp together the better you get to know each other.

"The Rugby Championship teams touring here have been together for three months now, which helps them. Now we've had that time together we have more of a club feel and things get easier to sort out."

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