Preview: Wales v Uruguay

Date published: September 18 2015

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It's been a fortnight to forget for Wales after losing both Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb but a big win over Uruguay would help ease some of their pain.

Arguably their two key backs in terms of goal-kicking and attacking talent, there's no question the injuries to their full-back and scrum-half sent shockwaves through the camp and supporters for that matter. And while there is obvious disappointment, Sunday brings a chance to respond.

They face a Uruguay side that has lost 30-8 and 40-0 to Japan in their most recent fixtures so anything but a 60-plus victory would be a surprise. Wales will take their South American opponents to pieces with their fast-paced and superior size, strength and skill at the Millennium Stadium.

Some may disagree but this match is the perfect start for Wales, particularly after losing two of their prized possessions as confidence can be restored and a marker laid down by this matchday 23. Expect players such as Gareth Davies, Justin Tipuric and Scott Williams to have huge games.

It's pleasing to see Warren Gatland go for the Scarlet at number nine ahead of Mike Phillips and Lloyd Williams as Davies has shown on several occasions that he enjoys a quick tempo. Against a minnow such as Uruguay, he will relish linking up with Rhys Priestland and a forward-moving pack.

Points difference could well play a factor in how this pool finishes so there will be a fine line between resting key players late on and going for the jugular. Six days later they tackle England at Twickenham but against Uruguay one would expect Welsh bodies to avoid bumps and bruises.

That England game is the start of three titanic battles with Fiji (Thursday, October 1) and Australia (Saturday, October 10) rounding off their pool campaign. If they do knock out two of that trio then it will be richly deserved for a side who remember also lost Jonathan Davies in May.

For now though those absentees will be roaring on their team-mates and doing their best to shield their personal disappointment from the world, hoping for a hefty victory in front of passionate Welsh fans on Sunday. In all honesty it should be a procession – even without Jamie Roberts, Dan Biggar, Alun-Wyn Jones and Taulupe Faletau – with 60 an acceptable margin before the big one against their old foes.

Ones to watch:

For Wales: Chances don't come much better than that Gareth Davies and Rhys Priestland have been given on Sunday. The half-backs will relish the front-foot ball and should create plenty for others if not score themselves. Elsewhere, Justin Tipuric will shine alongside captain Sam Warburton as Wales look to mount a big score..

For Uruguay: Full-back Gaston Mieres is set to do plenty of chasing as Wales bust the line at will on Sunday. He must be up to the task with his one-on-one defence and will need help from his wings Santiago Gibernau and Rodrigo Silva. It's a tough and sometimes helpless task against relentless opposition so he must not let his head drop or Wales will eat up the resulting space.

Head-to-head: We look at the hookers here as Scott Baldwin is given a big opportunity to put down a marker to his rivals for the red jersey. He goes up against Uruguay's most experienced player this weekend, Carlos Arboleya, who must lead by example throughout.

Recent results: The two teams have never met

Prediction: By how much? Wales by 60!

The teams:

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Tom Francis, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Ross Moriarty, 22 Lloyd Williams, 23 Matthew Morgan.

Uruguay: 15 Gaston Mieres, 14 Santiago Gibernau, 13 Joaquin Prada, 12 Andres Vilaseca, 11 Rodrigo Silva, 10 Felipe Berchesi, 9 Agustin Ormaechea, 8 Alejandro Nieto, 7 Matias Beer, 6 Juan Manuel Gaminara, 5 Jorge Zerbino, 4 Santiago Vilaseca, 3 Mario Sagario, 2 Carlos Arboleya, 1 Alejo Corral.
Replacements: 16 German Kessler, 17 Oscar Duran, 18 Mateo Sanguinetti, 19 Franco Lamanna, 20 Agustin Alonso, 21 Juan De Freitas, 22 Alejo Duran, 23 Francisco Bulanti.

Date: Sunday, September 20
Venue: Millennium Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 BST (13:30 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzère (France), Mathieu Raynal (France)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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