Fired-up Wallabies hammer Wales
November 27, 2009
Digby Ioane celebrates Australia's first try at the Millennium Stadium
© Getty Images
A fired-up Australia powered to a 33-12 victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Following last weekend's loss to Scotland Australia ripped in to the home side, scoring tries through Digby Ioane, James Horwill, David Pocock and Tatafu Polota-Nau. Stephen Jones and Leigh Halfpenny slotted kicks for a dismal Wales, who lost both Halfpenny and talismanic wing Shane Williams to early injuries.
Pocock was majestic in the first-half before being replaced by George Smith, equally good on the openside, after dislocating his thumb while fly-half Matt Giteau orchestrated two tries in a Man of the Match performance. Giteau missed the winning conversion last weekend and was the butt of som harsh words but returned to his influential best as Wales were made to look several yards off the pace.
The Australian tight-five decimated the Welsh pack in the scrum and following the withdrawal of Matthew Rees due to injury the home side's lineout returned to its scattergun worst. Gethin Jenkins lead Wales in the absence of injured No.8 Ryan Jones with Dragons youngster Dan Lydiate winning his first start in a re-jigged back-row.
Giteau's kick-off, though, spiralled out on the full with his Murrayfield nightmare apparently fresh in the memory. His pack spared his blushes though as Ospreys prop Paul James was penalised for boring in at the ensuing scrum. With two minutes on the clock Giteau lined up his first kick from the halfway line and put all of his experience in to bisecting the posts for the opening points.
The fired-up visitors took the attack to Wales immediately as Will Genia sniped through a gap with able support from Ben Alexander. The Millennium Stadium crowd was silenced as Williams limped off with a hamstring injury with just five minutes on the clock.
Australia continued to pour forward in attack, with Wales seemingly powerless to stop the tide of green and gold. Giteau, standing deep, threaded a stunning grubber between a laboured Welsh line and Ioane was clear to score his third try against Wales following a late effort last season and one on debut in Brisbane.
Wales coughed up possession all too easily on the Australia 22 from the restart and the Wallabies again made easy yards through Pocock and Rocky Elsom. Their flow was stopped only by a penalty-winning tackle from Jenkins, whose effort was returned in kind by Pocock after Wales strung together their first meaningful possession. Jones and Martyn Williams showed creative flashes before an inside pass to Halfpenny saw the wing isolated and turned over.
James' poor showing at the scrum continued as he conceded a free-kick, with the re-set also going the way of the Wallabies. A cross-kick from Giteau found Hynes offside and the penalty went to Wales. Halfpenny smashed over a stunning penalty to improbably get Wales on the board.
The response was immediate from the Wallabies as they got the second try that their dominance deserved. A stunning give and take in midfield between props Alexander and Benn Robinson allowed Drew Mitchell acres of space out wide and his straightening line gave Horwill the easiest of run-ins in the corner.
The tit-for-tat exchange continued with another offside call against the Wallabies and Jones angled in his kick to take three points out of the Australian lead. With the Wallabies' mantra clearly you score a penalty, we'll notch a try; Pocock continued his superb start by reaching out for their third.
James Hook had been pressurised in to conceding a five-metre lineout and the Wallabies collected the ball from the set-piece and rumbled towards the line. Patient phase play gave way to a great pass by hooker Stephen Moore and Pocock extended a telescopic arm to score under the posts.
A fourth try was served up on a plate by a Quade Cooper cross-kick as Williams' replacement Tom James slipped, but the ball beat Ioane to the dead-ball line. Wales finally conjured a meaningful break through Matthew Rees but the hooker soon followed Halfpenny back to the bench with an injury after setting up Jones' third penalty.
Giteau replied with a penalty won from the restart by the magnificent Pocock and Peel desperately looked to up the tempo by taking a kickable penalty quickly soon after. Some dancing feet from replacement Andrew Bishop and a good offload looked to have set Roberts free but he knocked on under pressure from an early tackle. Jones added a fourth penalty before the break for a shell-shocked Wales, who welcomed the half-time whistle with open arms.
After the restart Hook dragged a 50m penalty wide of the uprights as the intensity dropped out of the game for a short spell, with some life injected by a fine chip and chase from James. The Blues wing was dragged in by the defence and won a penalty as the Wallabies killed the ball. Jones missed this effort, leaving six points on the field.
Six points soon became a potential 13 as Roberts failed to find James on his outside following a scything break. Jones offloaded superbly from a tackle to Roberts, who only had to find his outside man but crucially delayed as James ran away from the pass, killing the opportunity. Wales rolled through 15 pedestrian phases before Australia snaffled another turnover.
Their next turnover was of a more attacking pedigree as Smith set Ioane free, with the passage of play ruined by a knock-on from Hynes. It was of no consequence for the Wallabies as the Welsh scrum was splintered again, allowing Giteau to kill the game with three more points.
Wales' misery was compounded by a try to Polota-Nau. Yet another Smith turnover produced a footrace from the Australian 22, with James getting turned over after collecting the loose ball. The ball was fired to Giteau who cannily exploited a mismatch against prop Duncan Jones to send replacement hooker Polota-Nau haring towards the line. Two explosive breaks from Sam Warburton gave Wales fresh impetus but their catastrophic lack of support play left the rangy openside isolated and ineffective.
Warburton's final burst followed an incision from Hook and featured a series of passes between Jones and Williams that recalled Wales' flair in the 2005 Grand Slam - something that their fans may have to take comfort from before digesting their side's miserable performance.
Huw Baines is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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