Sizeable gulf between Wallabies and Wales

Date published: November 5 2016

So much for recent matches in this fixture being close. The mismatch between the Wallabies, fresh off the Rugby Championship, and Wales playing their first match since June was brutally clear in Cardiff. 

Falling back on that would the too easy, and in fact disrespectful to Australia. Despite botching a number of chances they made more than 400 metres in the first half alone.

Michael Cheika’s side have played far better than this in 2016 and yet still won by a mile in Cardiff, with the crispness of their passing and running lines, including their dummy runners, on another level to what Wales could offer in return.

No wonder an underwhelming crowd, both in terms of noise and numbers, headed for the exits before 60 minutes was up on the clock.

Based on the narrow margins between the two sides at last year’s Rugby World Cup and the Wallabies’ struggles this year against England and New Zealand, this was supposed to be Wales’ best chance to end a depressing run of eleven previous losses. How short they fell.

Hallam Amos had to start over the ineffective Alex Cuthbert and instantly made an impression, albeit with Wales then down by 22 points.

Ross Moriarty at least was a positive force at number eight, setting the tone on both sides of the ball in only his ninth cap ahead of more senior players. 

Don’t be fooled by the second half when Scott Williams’ try provided some respectability. Australia slacked off and still finished with 32 points.

Rob Howley must dread to think what the scoreline would have been had the All Blacks been in town. Their previously praised defence has disappeared, missing 11 tackles before the break.

Credit though to the Wallabies. Their ball carriers made ground persistently, in stark contrast to Wales, while their numerous offloads went to hand more often than not as space in Welsh defence repeatedly presented itself.

The second row has changed constantly throughout the year, but today Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman were excellent.

Bernard Foley too produced one of his better matches in an up-and-down year, scything his way to a deserved try and so often the architect of Australia’s points, even if his goalkicking was far from perfect.

Then again, it didn’t need to be. Australia, with a record of seven defeats to four wins now in 2016, had this result in the bag right from the start.

by Ben Coles