Despite scoring a late try in his final game for Wales, Shane Williams was handed a losing send-off in Cardiff as Australia won 24-18.
Despite scoring a late try in his final game for Wales, Shane Williams was handed a losing send-off in Cardiff as Australia prevailed 24-18 on Saturday.
The result made it four wins in a row for Australia over Wales, as they backed up their victory when the teams last met in the RWC bronze final, and extended the hosts' poor record against the Tri-Nations to just one success in sixteen Tests.
But the 34-year-old Williams, to the delight of a crowd of more than 61,000, had the last word when, with his final act in a Wales jersey, he scored a typically jinking try in the corner just before full-time to extend his record to 58 tries.
The clash, played under a closed roof, changed when, with Wales 6-3 up early in the second half, home full-back Leigh Halfpenny was sent to the sin-bin and Australia scored 21 unanswered points while he was off the field.
Wales took a sixth minute lead when Rhys Priestland kicked a 40 metre penalty.
Shane Williams had to wait thirteen minutes to get his first touch but, soon afterwards, he came across from the left wing to the right to help keep an attack alive. But a promising move ended when centre Scott Williams dropped the ball short of the line.
Australia's James O'Connor, playing his first Test at fly-half, then missed a straightforward penalty chance that would have levelled the game before Australia went close to scoring a try on the half hour.
After a surging run by full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes's clever cross kick was gathered close to Wales's line by Wallaby right wing Lachie Turner.
But Shane Williams, once again showing his defensive worth, just did enough to force Turner into touch before he grounded the ball. Although it needed several minutes' study by video referee Geoff Warren before Australia were denied a try.
Priestland and O'Connor then exchanged penalties, both awarded for offside, to leave Wales three points in front at half-time.
Australia emerged for the second period without openside flanker David Pocock, replaced by Radike Samo, and soon went close after a fine handling move saw O'Connor launch a counter-attack involving Barnes and Ashley-Cooper.
But after Barnes, involved for a second time, kicked ahead, O'Connor was tackled without the ball in sight of the line by Halfpenny and Jonathan Kaplan sent him to the sin-bin.
It was an expensive error, with Australia scrum-half Will Genia forcing his way over for a close range try which O'Connor converted. O'Connor then missed a simple penalty, the ball hitting the post, minutes later but it hardly mattered.
It was O'Connor's excellent cut-out pass that sent Turner in for a try at the corner and he then made no mistake with the tricky conversion.
Wales were still a man down when Samo's pass found Barnes for Australia's third try.
The home side did staunch the flow of Australia points with their first try in the 66th minute after Priestland followed up after good work out wide by replacement forward Ryan Jones.
But Priestland's conversion attempt hit the post and Australia were still 24-11 in front before Shane Williams scored the try the crowd wanted. An ideal way for him to cap his Test career.
Tries: Priestland, Williams
Pen: Priestland 2
Tries: Genia, Turner, Barnes
Pen: O'Connor 3
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Ryan Jones, 19 Justin Tipuric, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Dan Biggar, 22 Alex Cuthbert.
Australia: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Anthony Fainga'a, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 James Horwill, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Nathan Sharpe, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Ben Tapuai, 22 Nick Phipps.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Dave Pearson, JÃ©rÃ´me Garces
TMO: Geoff Warren