Wallabies hang on in another Cardiff classic

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Australia has extended its stranglehold over Wales to 13 games, with a 29-21 victory in Cardiff.

With the roof closed, the dreary Welsh day stayed well outside of the Millennium Stadium turf, opening up for the dynamic contest for which both teams were keen, and ended up in yet another single-figure result.

Though the sides on paper looked worlds apart, with Wales openly picking a side with all eyes on 2019, things were not cruisy for the Wallabies, neednaig  gritty second-half performance to keep the Welsh at bay in yet another tense clash.

When they had half a chance, Australia made the most of it with some clinical attack, but a mounting penalty count, at scrum time and in the ruck, gave the Welsh chances to hit back.

Inside centre Samu Kerevi didn't have the same field day he enjoyed in Japan and it was Australia's forwards who finished off much of their attack, scoring three of the four Australia tries, with little opportunity for their more-recognised attacking weapons.

Michael Hooper had a mixed night. Photo: Getty ImagesThe return of Will Genia and Bernard  Foley showed immediately, with the pair steering Australia's backline with crisp service and some clever in-field kicking.

Camped in their attack early, the Wallabies couldn’t come away with points and a charged down Reece Hodge kick put them under pressure at the other end, though Bernard Foley was able to clear the loose ball.

Wales had the first points when Sekope Kepu gave up an offside penalty, putting the home side in an early lead, before a Wallabies lineout turned into a Tatafu Polota-Nau rolling maul try. 

Wales’ new more dynamic attack began to show as the half ticked on and new winger Steff Evans finished off a slick attacking chain that allowed Wales to take advantage of a left edge overlap.

Adam Coleman had the reply for Australia, after a clever grubber kick from Bernard Foley put the Wallabies in the right corner, with Coleman the beneficiary, collecting a pinpoint Will Genia pass to cross.

Wales looked to the edges for their attacking opportunities, and lit up those areas at times, but well-timed tackles from Australia’s backs and some clever in-field kicking kept the Wallabies off the hook.

Kurtley Beale scored the final Wallabies try. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Wallabies peppered the Welsh line for no reward in the shadows of half-time, before a quick switch put Michael Hooper in open space and over the line.

Where the Wallabies piled on the first-half pressure, it was Wales who put the foot down in the second, with Australia conceding penalties and giving super boot Leigh Halfpenny the chance to punish them, narrowing the gap to six points.

Desperate defence amid the territory piling up against them kept the Wallabies on top and then a blink-and-you’d-miss-it Kurtley Beale steal gave the fullback Australia’s fourth.

Australia had to all but finish the game without skipper Hooper, after the flanker was yellow-carded in the 67th minute for repeated offences, and the pressure was well and truly on the visitors.

Wales were kept off the line as they attempted pushover scrums and missed the execution on attempts to go wide, but they kept the blowtorch on Australia, oping for scrum after scrum for the better part of Hooper's stint off the field.

Hallan Amos scored a last-minute try for Wales to spark a comeback, but it was ultimately too little, too late.

The win takes their unbeaten streak to seven, with two draws and four wins leading into the Cardiff encounter.

The Wallabies head to London on Sunday night (AEDT) ahead of a blockbuster clash with England at Twickenham.

RESULT

Wales 21

Tries: Evans, Amos

Cons: Halfpenny 

Pens: Halfpenny 3

Australia 29

Tries: Polota-Nau, Coleman, Hooper, Beale

Cons: Foley 3

Pens: Hodge

Yellow Cards: Hooper (67')