Gloucester Rugby’s Owen Williams made his first test start for Wales this weekend when Australia made the trip to the Principality Stadium.
Wales however were on the receiving end of a 29-21 defeat at the hands of the Wallabies as it appeared the visitors had snuffed out Wales’ selection and game-plan experiment with a more expansive performance, in doing so winning their thirteenth successive game against Wales.
The decision to play Owen Williams at inside centre seemed an inspired one, as his partnership with Dan Biggar at fly-half was a combination that kept the Australian defensive line guessing according to Aussie coach Michael Cheika.
Scrum-half Gareth Davies made a number of notable breaks in the game but they were partly the doing of Williams who gave Australia some real distractions with his sharp eye and speed.
‘Last word on Rugby’ writer Gavin Barrett commented on Williams’ performance: “Owen Williams was undoubtedly the big news when it came to Gatland’s selection, and it did not take long to see how well the Gloucester playmaker fitted in.”
He added: “Williams and fly-half Dan Biggar dovetailed nicely, switching between fly-half and centre in a way not seen under Gatland since James Hook and Gavin Henson during the 2008 Grand Slam.
It wasn’t all good for Wales though as they made a total of sixteen handling errors in the match. Moments before half time Evans hit a poor sliced kick which set up the attack that led to the Wallabies’ third try. It was also evident as the game wore on that Wales were trying to offload the ball at every opportunity but the communication and decision making seemed to be the missing ingredient which allowed Australia to get over the line.
Wales’ next outing is against Georgia on 18th November. Rhys Priestland is likely to make his 49th appearance as Gatland confirmed: “I think we’ll make a lot of changes for next week.”