|2019 Rugby World Cup: Australia v Wales|
|Venue: Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo Date: Sun, 29 September Kick-off: 08:45 BST|
|Coverage: Full commentary on every Wales game across BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.|
Wales against Australia on Sunday should be the match that decides who finishes top of Pool D.
The two sides have played one World Cup game each so far, with Wales beating Georgia 43-14 and the Wallabies overcoming Fiji 39-21.
Now the group’s top seeds go head-to-head in Tokyo, renewing a rivalry that has produced some nail-bitingly close encounters in recent years.
Wales triumphed in the latest meeting, winning 9-6 in Cardiff last November.
Before then, however, Warren Gatland’s side had suffered 13 successive defeats against Australia, a sequence of results stretching back to 2008.
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Gatland and his players say last year’s victory has renewed their confidence for this fixture, while Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika believes Wales are the favourites.
Wales are unchanged from their win over Georgia, with Alun Wyn Jones set to win a record 130th cap, surpassing the previous mark set by Gethin Jenkins.
Wales were ranked number one in the world as recently as August, while their Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this year coincided with a record 14-match winning run.
Australia also came into this World Cup in fine form, having beaten New Zealand 47-26 – a record margin – in the Rugby Championship last month.
Their preparations for this match have been disrupted by the suspension of wing Reece Hodge because of a dangerous tackle but, with the vastly experienced Adam Ashley-Cooper taking his place, the Wallabies remain a potent threat.
There are three other changes to the team which beat Fiji, with the accomplished and seasoned half-back pairing of Will Genia and Bernard Foley recalled, while Dane Haylett-Petty replaces Kurtley Beale at full-back.
There is one alteration on the Wales bench as centre Owen Watkin comes in for full-back Leigh Halfpenny to offer cover for Hadleigh Parkes, who starts despite breaking a bone in his hand against Georgia.
Wales: L Williams; North, Jonathan Davies, Parkes, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; Wyn Jones, Owens, Francis, Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Wainwright, Tipuric, Navidi.
Replacements: Smith, Dee, Lewis, Shingler, Moriarty, T Williams, Patchell, Watkin.
Australia: Haylett-Petty; Ashley-Cooper, O’Connor, Kerevi, Koroibete; Foley, Genia; Sio, Latu, Alaalatoa, Rodda, Arnold, Pocock, Hooper (capt), Naisarani.
Replacements: Uelese, Slipper, Kepu, Coleman, Salakaia-Loto, White, To’omua, Beale.
Officials: Referee, Romain Poite (France); Assistant referees, Luke Pearce (England), Karl Dickson (England); TMO Ben Skeen (New Zealand).
What they said
Wales head coach Warren Gatland: “We have not really looked too far ahead. If you do get out of the group, all quarter-finals are going to be pretty tough. It is about taking one game at a time and trying to build and create momentum.
“We feel as if we are a team who are capable of doing that, the longer we go in tournaments we feel as if we get better and more cohesive.
“It is a pretty good start in the first game. It is going to be a tough Australian team, but we have had some close battles in recent times and were good enough to get a win last time.
“We have trained well this week and the guys have definitely gone up a notch in intensity. I think it’s going to be a great game.”
Australia head coach Michael Cheika: “I’ve been privileged to be part of a few of these now and they’re always very tight. For my first Test match in charge of Australia I had the privilege of going to Cardiff.
“We like to run with the ball, they like to play a lot of counter-attacking footie sometimes and they’re great defenders as well. We’ve got very contrasting styles.
“The one thing you see in these games is full commitment from all players on both sides, which makes them tight. It’s an interesting sort of battle – last year there was a fair bit of ball movement, but nobody scored a try.
“Once you start having a series of close games, they almost become self-fulfilling prophecies because everyone sort of knows what’s going to happen. It’s a good rivalry.”
This will be the third match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be played at the large, bowl-shaped Tokyo Stadium, which hosted the opening game between Japan and Russia and will also stage the third-place play-off.
Used for football and rugby union, the stadium opened in 2001 and has a capacity of 49,970.
Tokyo Stadium was originally built for athletics as well as football and rugby and, although its focus on football means a track was not built around the pitch, it is a long way from the touchline to the stands.
- Australia and Wales have played on 42 occasions, with Australia leading the head-to-head 30-11 with one draw.
- Australia and Wales have played six matches at Rugby World Cups, Australia winning five of them. Wales’s sole World Cup victory over Australia came in 1987 in the third place play-off.
- Wales ended a run of 13 consecutive defeats against Australia when they won their last encounter 9-6 in November 2018.
- Australia have progressed to the knock-out stages of every Rugby World Cup and have reached at least the semi-finals in four of the last five tournaments.
- Adam Ashley-Cooper is only the second Wallaby to play in four World Cups after George Gregan. This will be Ashley-Cooper’s 18th career World Cup match, two behind Gregan.
- Alun Wyn Jones will make his 130th Test appearance for Wales, overtaking the record he holds jointly with Gethin Jenkins. Jones will feature in his 17th World Cup match. Only Jenkins has played more with 18.