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Dewi Lake Aims to be a History-Maker . . . and end 55 Years of Wales Failure

By Graham Thomas

Not many senior players wearing the red shirt of Wales have won in Australia.

No-one, in fact, in the past 55 years.

Which – should he need any – will provide Wales captain Dewi Lake with extra motivation when he leads out his team for the first Test against Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

Lake is hoping to become one of the first Welsh players to pick up a win on both South African and Australian soil for his country.

The Ospreys hooker is one of six survivors from the Welsh side that beat the world champion Springboks 13-12 in Bloemfontein two years ago and now he has another piece of history in his sights.

Wales have only won once against the Wallabies in Australia and that was way back in 1969.

That was a Welsh team that included youngsters who would go in to be the glinting precious metals of the golden era of the Seventies – JPR Williams, Gerald Davies, Barry John, Gareth Edwards and Mervyn Davies.

Since then they have lost 11 in a row.

That sequence is reflected in DragonBet’s match day odds, which have Wales as distant outsiders at 9/2.

The Wallabies are a solid 1/6 to win, with the draw at 25/1. You can get Wales at 5/1 to win by one to ten points, and 50/1 to win by 41 to 50 points.

But buoyed by that historic away win against South Arica, Lake is hoping to pull off another major coup along with fellow Boks bashers Liam Williams, Nick Tompkins, Kieran Hardy, Gareth Thomas and Tommy Reffell.

“Records like that are meant to be broken. It gives us a great opportunity, a great marker something this group can change or leave behind,” said Lake.

“It’s another driver for us, adding onto our seven losses in a row. It is another thing that can get the boys in the right mindset.

“Test rugby is about winning. Winning is our goal every time we take the field and that’s the main objective on Saturday.

“A Welsh touring side hasn’t won here since 1969 and we know it’s not going to be easy. But we’re excited to take the field and confident in our ability.”

Aaron Wainwright will win his 50th cap in the back row in a side that shows seven changes, one positional, from the team that lost to South Africa last month at Twickenham.

Gloucester wing Josh Hathaway, who has played for both Wales and England U20, will make his debut, while Ben Thomas gets his first start in the No 10 jersey.

Bath prop Archie Griffin also gets a first start after recovering from injury and will pack down against the most experienced Australian forward of all-time in James Slipper, who will move into sixth place on the world rugby all-time capped list with his 135th appearance – six short of the total for the whole of the Wales pack.

There are seven uncapped caps in the Wallaby match day 23, including Queensland Reds outside half Tom Lynagh.

Recognise that name? He is the son of Aussie legend and World Cup winner Michael Lynagh and brother of Louis Lynagh, who played for Italy in their win over Wales in Cardiff at the end of the Six Nations this year.

This is the time of year when if it’s raining outside you don’t feel too much of a waster by spending most of the morning and early afternoon watching rugby on TV.

Otherwise, you may have to draw the curtains to keep out the sunlight and settle down to a busy schedule.

New Zealand against England kicks things off at 8am on Saturday, where the All Blacks will try and dust off the ring-rust in their first match since losing last October’s World Cup final.

The All Blacks may have lost the likes of Sam Whitelock, Dane Coles, Brodie Retallick and Aaron Smith since, but they are still solid favourites to win.

DragonBet have New Zealand at 1/4 with England priced 10/3 outsiders and the draw at 20/1.

Ireland are more fancied to beat world champions South Africa in Pretoria in a match that starts at 4.00pm.

They are still the outsiders, but a 2/1 shot, with the Springboks favourites at 4/9. You can get Ireland at 4/5 with a 7.5 start.

The final match of the day takes place in Mendoza at 8.00pm, where Argentina host France.

The Pumas have not played since back-to-back defeats to New Zealand (semi-final) and England (third place play-off) at the World Cup, while France ended the Six Nations with wins over Wales and England.

But Argentina are favourites at 1/2, with France at 7/4 and the draw priced 16/1.

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