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Wales Women

Wales run through line outs during Captains Run

Wales aim to finish campaign in style

Despite defeats to Canada and New Zealand, Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham says the focus this week has been on finishing their debut WXV1 campaign with a victory against Australia at Go Media Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

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That won’t prove no easy task as the Wallaroos shocked France in their last match and know if they record a comfortable win and other results go their way, they could actually in fact come away as competition winners.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to try and finish our final game of this year strongly,” said Cunningham.

“They’ve [Australia] got threats all over the field, strong and athletic ball carriers, so if you give them enough possession and stand off them, they can trouble you.

“The biggest thing is that we have to start well… we need to front up physically, be accurate with the ball and that gives us a chance to build into a game.”

Cunningham has named a side with six changes to the starting line-up and one positional switch from the team that faced New Zealand in Dunedin.

Double Olympian, Jasmine Joyce, moves to full back with Lisa Neumann and Carys Cox both returning to the wings. Hooker Carys Phillips and Sisilia Tuipolotu are named in the front row, with Gwenllian Pyrs starting her third game in WXV1 while Saracens’ Georgia Evans returns to the Wales second row alongside Abbie Fleming, with Alex Callander, Kate Williams and Bethan Lewis in a new-look backrow to face the Wallaroos.

“Physicality was an area we looked at after the New Zealand game so we’ve looked at some of our players who can give bring more physicality. Carys Cox and Lisa Neuamann are physical athletes, Hannah Bluck is physical at 12 so we wanted to get that in our backline,” said Cunningham.

“Up front Sisilia comes back in and Kate Williams we thought went well so we wanted to reward here and then we have experience on the bench.

The Wales head coach said it was tough watching the record defeat to the Black Ferns last week in Dunedin but his side will learn from the experience.

“It was tough, no-one likes to lose conceding that many points.  It was really difficult but there were some positives in that performance as well,” he said.

“There were some great learnings too to compete at that level against the world champions and what we have to get right in our game to give us a chance. But we have had to park all that and look forward to challenge against Australia.

Australia v Wales Women, Go Media Mt Smart Stadium

Australia: Faitala Moleka; Maya Stewart, Georgina Friedrichs, Arabella McKenzie, Ivania Wong; Carys Dallinger, Layne Morgan; Brianna Hoy, Tania Naden, Eva Karpani, Sera Naiqama, Michaela Leonard (captain), Siokapesi Palu, Emily Chancellor, Kaitlan Leaney.

Replacements: Adiana Talakai, Bree-Anna Cheatham, Bride O’Gorman, Atasi Lafai, Ashley Marsters, Jay Huriwai, Cecilia Smith, Lori Cramer.

Wales: Jasmine Joyce; Lisa Neumann, Hannah Jones (captain), Hannah Bluck, Carys Cox; Lleucu George, Keira Bevan; Gwenllian Pyrs, Carys Phillips, Sisilia Tuipolotu, Abbie Fleming, Georgia Evans, Kate Williams, Alex Callender, Bethan Lewis.

Replacements: Kelsey Jones, Abbey Constable, Cerys Hale, Alisha Butchers, Sioned Harries, Meg Davies, Robyn Wilkins, Kerin Lake.

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Wales aim to finish campaign in style