Gatland makes one change for Australia Test

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The Independent Online

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made one change from the team that beat Argentina for Saturday's autumn Test finale against Australia in Cardiff.

It is in the back division, where Sale Sharks scrum-half Dwayne Peel takes over from Gareth Cooper and wins his 72nd cap.



Peel gains a second start of the four-Test November series, preferred to Cooper, who has been released from Wales squad training to play for Cardiff Blues in tonight's tour match appointment with Australia.



Gatland's selection means that nine players - James Hook, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, Gethin Jenkins, Paul James, Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Andy Powell and skipper Ryan Jones - will have started all four of Wales' autumn Tests.



Scarlets scrum-half Martin Roberts will provide bench cover for Peel, but Blues centre Tom Shanklin fails to gain a place in the match-day 22.



Shanklin missed the 33-16 victory over Argentina due to a broken nose suffered against Samoa eight days earlier, yet Scarlets back Jonathan Davies retains a midfield berth alongside Roberts.



Ospreys forward Jonathan Thomas, meanwhile, will reach 50 caps if he appears as a substitute against the Wallabies.



Gatland said: "We were pretty pleased with the performance against Argentina.



"We matched them up-front, our defence held up well and we are starting to show a more clinical edge in attack.



"There is still improvement left in us, and we feel we need to go up a couple more gears if we are to achieve what we want against Australia, but we are coming to the end of the series and the players feel they are starting to get into their stride.



"The level of performance is improving throughout the squad as we spend more and more time together, and we hope to get a little nearer the peak of our powers at the weekend."



Despite Australia's shock 9-8 defeat against Scotland last weekend - the Wallabies' first in that fixture since 1982 - Gatland is braced for a huge challenge at the Millennium Stadium.



"The Wallabies were incredibly unlucky last weekend, and they won't want a repeat of that losing experience in Cardiff," he added.



"They may be coming to the end of a long and gruelling tour, but they won't allow themselves to have one eye on that plane back to the Australian summer until they have thrown everything at us.



"They are one of the top three teams in world rugby, and we have no right to expect anything other than the sternest of tests - both physically and mentally - but we feel we are up to it."

Wales team to play Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, 5.15pm.

J Hook (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), D Peel (Sale Sharks); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Scarlets), P James (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), A Powell (Cardiff Blues), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt).



Replacements: H Bennett (Ospreys), D Jones (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), M Roberts (Scarlets), A Bishop (Ospreys), T James (Cardiff Blues).





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