Wales edge out Wallabies to end winless streak

Date published: November 10 2018

Wales ended a 13-match losing streak against Australia when they claimed a hard-fought 9-6 win in their November Test in Cardiff on Saturday.

In an evenly contested and often dour encounter, both sides committed a plethora of unforced errors and as the scoreline suggests, neither managed to cross the whitewash.

Wales eventually outscored their visitors by three penalties to two with Dan Biggar slotting the winning kick in the game’s closing stages.

The Wallabies made a bright start and launched several attacks from the kick off. In the third minute, Samu Kerevi was in the clear deep inside Wales territory but spilled the ball after an excellent cover tackle from Gareth Anscombe.

The next 10 minutes was a slugfest as both sides tried to gain the ascendancy although Leigh Halfpenny missed an opportunity to open the scoring when he failed with a penalty attempt in the 12th minute.

10 minutes later, he made up for that miss when he slotted a three-pointer off the kicking tee after the Wallabies were penalised for illegal scrummaging.

Australia battled to gain momentum as they were met by a ferocious defensive effort from the hosts although Dan Lydiate and Alun Wyn Jones went offside on defence in the 34th minute and Bernard Foley slotted the resulting penalty to open the Wallabies’ account.

The tight nature of the game continued with the sides cancelling each other out with great defence while the breakdown battle, between Wales tearaway Justin Tipuric and the Wallabies’ Michael Hooper and David Pocock, was one of the highlights of this Test.

On the stroke of half-time, Halfpenny had a chance to regain the lead for his team but, once again, his shot at goal was wide of the mark which meant the sides were deadlocked at 3-3 at half-time.

The Wallabies had the better of the second half’s early exchanges but poor decision making cost them dearly during that period. In the 51st minute, Tipuric collapsed a maul within goalkicking range but instead of taking a kick at goal from the resulting penalty, Wallabies captain Hooper opted to kick for touch.

That decision backfired when Tolu Latu knocked the ball on after they launched a drive from the subsequent line-out deep inside Wales 22.

Three minutes later, Australia had another chance to extend their lead off the kicking tee, when Liam Williams played the ball on the ground, but Hooper opted to set up another line-out close to Wales’ tryline and this time Latu failed to find his jumper at the set-piece.

Those decisions came back to haunt the visitors as Wales regained the lead in the 68th minute courtesy of another Halfpenny penalty after Tatafu Polota-Nau infringed at a ruck just outside his 22.

The Wallabies needed a response and it came in the 75th minute when Pocock showed his class by winning a crucial breakdown penalty for his side and Matt Toomua made no mistake off the tee to draw the visitors level again.

Wales would have the final say, however, as two minutes later, Australia conceded a penalty at the breakdown and Biggar made no mistake from the tee to end his side’s long winless run in this fixture.

The scorers:

For Wales:
Pens: Halfpenny 2, Biggar

For Australia:
Pens: Foley, Toomua

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Liam Williams

Australia: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Jack Maddocks

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)