Saturday, 9 June 2012

Australia v Wales Match Report

A wounded Australia turned in a clinical, streetwise performance to run out 27 - 19 winners over 6 nations champions Wales at the Suncorp Stadium.

After Australia gained parity in the kicking battle early on Berrick Barnes opened the scoring after 7 minutes with a three pointer caused by wales gave away a series of penalties at the breakdown.

Wales responded quickly after some lovely inter-passing between Rhys Preistland, Leigh Halfpenny and Scott Williams. But Wales lost a bit of composure and Priestland knocked on at the following ruck and the chance was gone.

It took 16 minutes to get the first try of the game and it went to Australian back row Scott Higginbotham. After some uncharacteristic poor defending from Wales, Australia got some quick ball and managed to rumble over the line for the try.

Wales got their first points on the board after Halfpenny slots a relatively simple penalty, given for Australia misbehaving at the ruck, a lot of which went unnoticed by referee Craig Joubert.

The rest of the first half went to and fro with Australia deservedly taking the lead in at half time 10 – 3.

The second half got off to the worst possible start from a Welsh point of view. Will Genia sniped and went through some more poor fringe defence from Wales, there was a hint of blocking from referee Joubert but Genia rounded the final welsh defender to score under the posts and it was a long way back for Wales.

Halfpenny began to chisel away at the lead with a penalty 5 minutes after Genia went over. This was then cancelled out by a drop goal from Barnes that kept the scoreboard kicking over.

Cue the Welsh revival. They hit the Wallabies defensive line hard and managed to get a simple penalty that Halfpenny knocked over.

Midway through the second half, substitute Ashley Beck caught the Australians flat-footed with a lovely step and offload to Alex Cuthbert who finished well from 25 metres out and Wales were growing into the game.

Halfpenny slotted another penalty to bring Wales to within a point, and then disaster struck for the Celts. Australian fell into a similar grove to the first half and attack hard around the fringes. This led to Will Genia putting Pat McCabe through a hole in the welsh defence and he crossed from close range to seal the victory.

Scott Higginbotham made a fantastic cover tackle in the last 10 minutes to deny Cuthbert a second try and really make the dying moments exciting.

Australia will be very relieved with this victory after Tuesdays defeat to Scotland. Will Genia shone and Berrick Barnes controlled the game well from 10. The Wallabies dominated the aerial battle and were able to gain some good field position because of this.

Referee Craig Joubert had a very suspect game. His refereeing of the breakdown was always going to come under scrutiny with Pocock and Warburton against each other, and he didn’t handle that facet of the game well at all. I think Wales may need to seek advice from a southern hemisphere referee in the next week because they appear to be calling the breakdown differently to what Wales are used to.

Wales will be disappointed with themselves. They were not in the game for the first 50 minutes and they were lucky to still be in the game. The kicking game was poor as was the chase. Wales lost the battle of the breakdown against the maestro Pocock. The fringe defence was almost non-existent which is very uncharacteristic and defence coach Shaun Edwards will definitely be working hard with his team in the week. Another disappointing factor from a Welsh point of view is they let 2 big try scoring opportunities go begging and that is criminal in the southern hemisphere. On the positive side the set piece was solid and Wales never looked like they were panicking which is nice to see. Also they showed Australia can be vulnerable so they can take some confidence into next week.

Wales and the nation were quietly confident heading into this tour and quoting in the press that nothing less than a series win will do, they’ve got a lot of work to do to ensure that happens from here on in.

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