Wallabies hold off fiery Wales

Sat, 23 Jun 2012 06:48
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The Wallabies were stretched right until the end, but they did enough to hang on for a tense 20-19 victory over Wales in Sydney on Saturday.

The Wallabies were stretched right until the end, but they did enough to hang on for a tense 20-19 victory over Wales in Sydney on Saturday.

The victory seals a series whitewash for the hosts, although they were made to work hard for all three wins against the Six Nations Grand Slam winners.

Late penalties cost Wales dearly. Last week a penalty after the 80 minutes gave the Wallabies three points and a two-point win. This week a penalty with six minutes to go gave the Wallabies three points and a one-point win. That is tough to take if you are Welsh, however well you have played and however splendid the game was.

It is a game of consequences and sometimes there are 'small' things that make the difference between winning and losing, small things with big consequences.

James Hook booted a turnover downfield and was substantially ahead in the race for the ball but the perverse thing broke into touch. Kurtley Beale got his timing wrong and gave the Welsh an attacking line-out. Opportunity turned to dross when they were penalised for obstruction and then marched 10 metres for Luke Charteris' vociferous disagreement with the decision, and then Ryan Jones went clearly and obviously offside. Berrick Barnes kicked that over and Wales lost by a point.

It was a match of delight, played in the Sydney sun on a perfect afternoon before a crowd of 42 889 by two energetic sides. There were just two tries but there was movement and endeavour, the excitement of the unexpected to drive away the memories of the expected. From the very start both sides ran.

The Wallabies ran and won a Barnes penalty when Adam Jones was offside. 3-0 after 3 minutes. The Welsh ran and won a Leigh Halfpenny penalty when Nathan Sharpe infringed at a tackle. 3-3 after 7 minutes. That's how the scoring went - a Barnes penalty when Mike Phillips infringed at a tackle, a Halfpenny penalty when Benn Robinson fell down in a scrum, a Barnes penalty when Gethin Jenkins infringed at a tackle. 9-6 to Australia after 16 minutes. But the scoring was not all the activity in between the kicks.

Wales attacked with zest but Matthew Rees was penalised for holding on five metres from the Wallaby line. The Wallabies attacked and ran, and the Welsh had to scramble in defence.

Jonathan Davies had a great run but was tackled and penalised for holding on. Sam Warburton won a turnover and ran powerfully. Phillips tapped a penalty and the Welsh carried on attacking but when Tatafu Polota Nau was penalised at a tackle, Halfpenny made it 9-all after 24 minutes.

The Wallabies then went through phases with lots of variation between pick-'n-drive and spreading wide. Warburton took a knock to the head during the attack and was replaced by Justin Tipuric.

The Wallabies attacked again with Digby Ioane prominent but Wales won a turnover but Phillips kicked directly into touch. The scrumhalf was then penalised for being offside and Barnes made the half-time score 12-9.

No tries but an enthralling half.

The Wallabies lost Pat McCabe early in the second half when his nose gushed blood.

The game seesawed. Beale broke but Ioane knocked on. Wales kicked and up-'n-under and Beale knocked on. Wales went through phases but the Wallabies won a turnover and Adam Ashley-Cooper had a strong run down the right. Beale knocked on and Wales attacked. Beale chipped towards the Welsh line and George North started a counterattack that yielded a five-metre scrum to Wales.

The scrums in the match were a mess. There were 12 of them for six resets, 10 collapses, three free kicks and five penalties. The five metre scrum won on the Welsh right became three scrums with four collapses, two resets, two penalties and a free kick. It was a tense time. Wales bashed. Phillips was close and Alex Cuthbert was closer till Ryan Jones picked up and curled over for a try under the posts. Wales led 16-12 after 61 minutes.

Barnes broke strongly and then the Wallabies bashed - Dave Dennis, Ben Alexander and Sitaleki Timani getting closer and closer till they went wide where the Wallabies had an overlap but Rob Horne chose to bash at the line in Jonathan Davies's tackle. The TMO, Vinny Munro, advised that a try had been scored though  Horne certainly lost his grip on the ball if not complete contact with it. 17-16 to Australia with 15 minutes to play.

The Wallabies were penalised just three times in the second half, each time at a scrum. Once Halfpenny, from inside his own half, hit the upright but when Robinson was penalised he goaled. 19-17 to Wales with 10 minutes to play.

Then Beale made his mistake at the touchline - catching the ball and then putting a stretched foot into touch instead of the other way around. The excited Welsh had an attacking line-out and formed a maul. They then broke off the maul into another channel and were penalised for obstruction, then marched 10 metres and then Ryan Jones was offside. Barnes goaled. 20-19 with 6 minutes to play.

Hook kicked downfield and led the chase for the ball but it went  into touch. Bradley Davies was clearly offside at the subsequent maul and that ended Welsh hopes, finally sealed when Will Genia kicked out.

The Wallabies had whitewashed the Welsh and retained the James Bevan Trophy, a glamorous plate named after the first captain of Wales who was born in Melbourne of Welsh parents but went to family in Wales after his parents had been drowned in a ship's accident.

Man of the Match: Berrick Barnes who was brave, skilled, astute and so effective with hands and feet.

Villain of the Match: The nearest was Luke Charteris as the Welsh lost their heads.

Moment of the Match: The Welsh counterattack sparked by George North.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Try: Horne
Pens: Barnes 5

For Wales:
Try: Ryan Jones
Con: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 4


Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Will Genia, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 David Pocock (captain), 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Nic White, 22 Anthony Faingaa.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Ryan Jones, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Luke Charteris, 19 Justin Tipuric, 20 Rhys Webb, 21 James Hook, 22 Scott Williams.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Garrat Williamson (New Zealand), Jonathon White (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)