The performances of opposing flyhalves Bernard Foley and Dan Biggar are sure to have a significant impact on the outcome of Saturday’s Pool A decider between the Wallabies and Wales, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
It seems obvious to say, but it's the respective performances of both Biggar and Foley, ironically both against England, that have single-handedly set the tournament alight.
Biggar first inflicted pain on the English when he scored 23 points in an incredible Welsh comeback, which was undoubtedly one of the matches of the tournament so far. Foley then proved he could go ‘Biggar but better' with a 28-point haul as the Wallabies sent England packing from the World Cup last Saturday.
Both players are dead-eye goal-kickers, but they’ve also added plenty to their teams with assured game management and well-balanced performances from the pivotal No 10 position.
It’s going to be enthralling to see which player comes up trumps on Saturday, with both the Wallabies and Wales having shown encouraging attacking intent at various stages.
Besides this head-to-head, the battle between powerful outside centres Tevita Kuridrani and George North should be almost worth the admission fee alone.
The Wallabies have also been boosted by Israel Folau’s recovery from injury, so they are sure to offer plenty of attacking threats once again.
However, it will be interesting to see how they cope without the suspended Michael Hooper, who has been outstanding at the breakdown and an absolute tackling machine.
David Pocock will have a big role to play in Hooper’s absence, but Wales captain Sam Warburton has the ability to achieve parity at the breakdown battle.
It should be an enthralling contest at Twickenham, with the winner set to top Pool A, while the runner-up will earn a quarter-final date with the Boks.
FOLEY’S STATS THAT MATTER
41 – World Cup points scored
23 – Kicks from hand
3 – Defenders beaten
BIGGAR’S STATS THAT MATTER
36 – World Cup points scored
39 – Kicks from hand
4 – Defenders beaten
HEAD TO HEAD
Wallabies 38, Wales 27, Draw 1
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Sean McMahon, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Kurtley Beale.
Wales – 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 George North, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Subs: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Tom Francis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 James Hook.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images