Wallabies look to finish season on high - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies look to finish season on high

By Darren Walton 29/11/2008 07:36:19 AM Comments (0)

The Wallabies will be out to end their 2008 Test program in style when they take on Wales indoors at Millennium Stadium on Saturday (Sunday 1.30am AEDT).

Driving the Wallabies as much as the tantalisingly prospect of completing a four-Test spring tour of Europe unbeaten for the first time in 12 years is the spectre of defeat.

The Wallabies have conquered all comers this season and scored drought-breaking wins in South Africa, France and England, as well as toppling the top-ranked All Blacks and Ireland.

All those victories would be forgotten, though, if they sign off with a loss to the reigning Six Nations champions.

"We've made strides forward so far on the tour but it would be very nice to put a polished performance out there," Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock said after Friday's captain's run.

"The tour's been really positive on many different levels, but certainly we'd like to finish it off well."

Ten of Australia's 22-man squad will be playing at Millennium Stadium for the first time and even Mortlock will be running out in Cardiff for only the second time in his career.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity of playing here tomorrow afternoon. The atmosphere will be amazing," Mortlock said.

"Wales loves their rugby. They are passionate supporters, so I think the whole team understands what's in front of us and that's exciting.

"It will be a massive rugby experience."

Desperate for the Wallabies to confirm their progression in his first season as coach, Robbie Deans has urged his charges to rise to the challenge and avoid suffering a demoralising loss before the Christmas break.

The canny Deans, though, is full of respect for the European champions and refused to offer any bold predictions.

"That's the great thing about rugby; it comes down to the day," he said.

"You can never be totally sure and that's why there's so much interest and that uncertainty, I guess, is what captivates not only the players but the viewing public as well.

"Tomorrow will be one of those occasions no doubt.

"I said right at the front end of the week that this would be our toughest game of this tour. There's no two ways about that."

The match referee is Alan Lewis, the Irishman heavily criticised for caning Australia in the penalty count in the Wallabies' 19-14 Bledisloe Cup loss to New Zealand in Hong Kong four weeks ago.

Deans said all the Wallabies sought from Lewis this time around was consistency in his rulings.

"From the players' perspective, they just want a line drawn in the sand and adhered to, because they will adapt," he said.

"We were probably a bit slower in adapting (to his interpretations in Hong Kong). We won't be here."

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