Rugby: Deans: Wales good preparation for NZ

Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images.
Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images.

Australia 20
Wales 19

France 49
Argentina 10

Robbie Deans knows All Blacks rugby as well as anyone and the Wallabies coach is certain Wales have provided the best possible preparation for winning back the Bledisloe Cup.

Deans paid the Six Nations champions the ultimate compliment, describing them as All Black-like.

Australia face New Zealand in back-to-back weeks to start the Rugby Championship from August 18, as they fight to end a decade of transtasman misery.

Deans says the Wallabies' 3-0 clean-sweep of the tenacious Welsh, which included two nail-biting finishes, will stand them in good stead for the enormous battle to come.

"We couldn't have had a better opponent to prepare us for what's coming," said Deans.

"Because the Welsh play 80 minutes, they look to attack when they sniff an opportunity - turnover ball from their own line doesn't concern them - and that's classically New Zealand.

"They're the two key traits that New Zealanders possess and they're probably the two key traits we have to master in order to get home."

Australia haven't won the Bledisloe since 2002 and following last year's loss in the World Cup semifinal to the eventual champions, their Eden Park drought against the All Blacks now extends back 26 years.

Deans said the expanded Rugby Championship incorporating Argentina made things tougher, but he's happy with the groundwork set against Wales.

Australia appeared headed for defeat in Melbourne and Sydney, but showed composure to work towards match-winning opportunities at the death.

Meanwhile, France ended its 14-year losing streak in Argentina in style by blowing away the hosts in the second test yesterday.

France's biggest win over the Pumas exacted revenge for last weekend's last-gasp 20-23 loss in Cordoba.

The victory ruined Felipe Contepomi's last game as captain of the Pumas, after he announced he was stepping down from the role.

France made seven changes, including starting first five-eighths Frederic Michalak for the first time in five years and he impressed with 19 points. Winger Yoann Huget bagged two tries and halfback Maxime Machenaud scored a try on debut right before the break, when France led 30-3.

Argentina didn't react, unlike last week, and didn't look likely to turn the score around. Pumas flanker Tomas de la Vega scored a consolation try five minutes from the end.

Despite the defeat, Contepomi left the field to a rousing reception from the crowd.

He debuted for the Pumas in 1998 and has been the figurehead of the Argentine game since he took over the captaincy after the 2007 World Cup. He has said he will continue to play for Argentina, just not as captain.

- NZ Herald

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