Wales vs Wallabies: Five things we learned

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies have suffered their first loss to Wales since 2008 in a 9-6 defeat on Sunday morning.

What are we talking about after that?

1. The streak is over

It was their most dominant winning run over a fellow top team but the Wallabies’ 10-year streak is finally over.

It’s a loss the Wallabies didn’t need after a lean season to this point, adding another name to the loss sheet.

Wales was the only top five team the Wallabies had not lost to under Michael Cheika before Sunday morning’s encounter. Now, they have lost to England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland twice in the past 12 months and dropped a game to Argentina at home for the first time in decades.

Michael Cheika has been urging for fans to keep the faith and faith is exactly what they will need to have in spades in the midst of a painful 2018 season. 

2. Wales defeat changes Italy picture

The Wallabies’ Test against Wales shaped as their most pivotal of the Spring Tour, well beyond just the simple matter of their long-running dominance.

With a first-up defeat it could be a game-changer for next week’s clash with Italy.

Cheika said post-match that it Sunday's result didn't change his plan for the second Test but it would be hard to imagine a host of players being rested in Europe.

That second match of the trip shaped as the one to bring in some of the uncapped players in the Wallabies squad, including wunderkind Jordan Petaia.

Now, though, there is no margin for defeat in Padova, making the selection decisions a little muddier.

3. Sliding door decisions cost Wallabies

In-game decisions are always judged in hindsight and the Wallabies’ decision to go for two consecutive lineouts midway through the second half did not age well.

Skipper Michael Hooper pointed to the corner twice in three minutes, turning down two very kickable penalties, and they were both choices the Wallabies ended up regretting.

The first started well before Australia lost the ball in the maul and in the second, a Tolu Latu overthrow gave the pill back to Wales.

Those weren’t the only questionable choices. The Wallabies’ tactical kicking didn’t have the impact it could have at times and it came back to bite them as Wales ran back at them.

When they went with ball in hand, often there was a sense Australia was looking for 'the play', running laterally and ultimately unable to make ground when it counted.

4. Tipuric takes flanker baton

Back row battles between Australia and Wales have long been mouth watering and it was the same on Sunday morning.

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric stepped up for the hosts in Cardiff.

He finished with a monstrous 14 tackles and four turnovers for Wales in a statement that Wales has lost little despite the retirement of long-time no. 7 and skipper Sam Warburton.

5. One step forward, one step backwards

One of the strangest things about the Wallabies loss on Sunday morning was in looking at the statistics.

This was not a big defeat in many areas - including the scoreboard - and indeed their focus areas in recent Tests actually progressed.

Australia was accurate and industrious in defence, a big step up from some of their efforts this year, and their lineout was generally tighter than it has been.

However, as with a lot of those same efforts this year, when some things move forward, others move backward.

A stride forward in defence was negated by decisions in attack, reaction to pressure moments and ill-judged moments of poor discipline, and ultimately the ledger remained the same.