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Wallabies beat Barbarians 31-28 in tight Sydney rugby clash
The Wallabies have come from behind to record an unconvincing 31-28 win against the Barbarians in a scrappy exhibition match at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Saturday's five-tries-to-four win might have come at a high cost with forwards Lukhan Tui (hamstring) and Jack Dempsey (knee) leaving the field with injuries, putting them in some doubt for the tour of Japan and Europe.
The Barbarians led 21-12 at half-time after out-scoring the Wallabies three tries to two in the first 40 minutes, with the second-string Australian side struggling with their unstructured play.
Japan is going to be demolished by Australia. Akihito Yamada, Shuhei Matsuhashi, Ryohei Yamanaka and Male Sa'u had to be pulled out. They have lost their depth in the backline and on the loose.
Apparently, Yoshikazu Fujita will be called up which played for the World XV, but he has been excluded in the extended squad.
Wallabies by 40+
If Japan wins, the Wallabies will need to do some soul searching...
Forwards: Uzair Cassiem, Lood de Jager, Ruan Dreyer, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Wilco Louw, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Teboho Mohojé, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coenraad Oosthuizen, Mahlatse Ralepelle
Backs: Lukhanyo Am, Curwin Bosch, Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronjé, Damian de Allende, Warrick Gelant, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Rudy Paige, Handré Pollard, Raymond Rhule, Louis Schreuder, Courtnall Skosan, Francois Venter
Bok squad for EoyT
Surprised to see Francois Louw included. He was banned for four weeks for eye gouging. I guess he'll be eligible for the last game then?
My starting XV for the Ireland game
7: du Toit
12: de Allende
We seem a bit thin on loose forwards as well as centres (no Serf or RJvR). The backline (in whatever guise) just doesn't inspire confidence so I suspect this could be a very forward orientated push for victory.
Why do the persist with the notion that du Toit is a credible option as an international flank? He should only ever be used there in an emergency.
Rugby: Wallabies hope local knowledge will see them past Brave Blossoms
Australia assistant coach Stephen Larkham said Wednesday the Wallabies head into Saturday's rugby international with Japan at Nissan Stadium knowing they are prepared both on and off the field.
A win over the All Blacks two weeks ago ensured the team are confident in their ability to beat anyone in the world, while the benefit of local knowledge will help them settle in quickly to their new surrounds following an overnight flight from Sydney.
"It does make things a bit easier," said former Ricoh Black Rams flyhalf Larkham, who won 102 caps during his illustrious career with the Wallabies.
"There is a Japanese side in Super Rugby and we play them every year and there are a number of ex-pat Aussies playing over here. So we know the landscape well and the culture and we have done our homework."
And as Larkham, who was a key cog of the Australia side that won Rugby World Cup 1999, pointed out, "the more chances we get to come here and know the layout," the better it is for 2019 when Japan hosts rugby's premier tournament.
"It is invaluable to get to a venue before a World Cup. Knowing the (2019) final will be played at the stadium we play in on Saturday is a bonus," he added.
"We know they have a number of threats," said defense coach Nathan Grey, who played for and coached Kyuden Voltex from 2003 to 2011 and who like Larkham was in the team that beat France in the 1999 World Cup final.
"They have (Amanaki Lelei) Mafi at No. 8 who last week was named the Australian (Conference) Super Rugby Player of the Year," following a standout season with the Melbourne Rebels.
"Their whole back row are effective ball players and carriers and (Kotaro) Matsushima can play wing or fullback or slip in at center and create a lot of opportunities, so is a player we need to be aware of."
Both teams were expected to name their sides Wednesday for the test match, the fifth meeting between the two nations. But injuries have forced both to delay the announcement until Thursday when Japan Rugby 2019 are also set to reveal the match schedule for RWC 2019.
Larkham, however, indicated that the Wallabies -- who have beaten Japan in all four encounters, including a 91-3 win last time out at Rugby World Cup 2007 -- would be looking to put out their strongest available side, despite three potentially tougher games on the horizon.