By Owain Jones, Rugby World Editor
In a nutshell
WALES SENSING a first victory on Australian soil since 1969 were far too slow out of the traps against a Wallaby side desperate to atone for their humbling 9-6 midweek loss to Scotland. Under-pressure coach Robbie Deans will have been impressed with the intensity shown by his side in the first-half, yet they will have been slightly worried that their dominance wasn’t converted into more points by the break, with a 10-3 advantage. A minute after the restart, the outstanding Will Genia seemingly made his concerns academic with a classy individual try to put the Wallabies 17-3 ahead. Yet with the game seemingly over, Wales countered and a scorching try from Grand Slam hero Alex Cuthbert put Wales back in the game along. With Leigh Halfpenny’s unerring accuracy with the boot, Wales clawed themselves back to within a point. With 13 minutes left on the clock, it was that man again, Genia, who put Pat McCabe in after running a superb line to confirm a deserved victory.
Fifty four seconds after the break with Wales a converted score down, Will Genia darted between three Welsh defence to leave him in a one-on-one with James Hook. Genia threw an outrageous sidestep that bamboozled the Welsh full-back and he touched down under the posts to put the Wallabies into a seemingly unassailable 17-3 lead.
An easy decision. Will Genia was simply peerless, in a one-man masterclass at scrum-half. The Queensland Red was a box-of-tricks, making darting runs around the fringes, several line-breaks and giving the Australian backline quick service, including Pat McCabe for Australia’s third try. He even scored the match-defining try in a display that did little to suggest he isn’t the best halfback in world rugby on present form. Mike Phillips will be desperate to stop Genia doesn’t have a similar effect next week in Melbourne. Honourable mentions go to David Pocock and Scott Higginbotham for the Wallabies, while the lively Alex Cuthbert and metronomic Leigh Halfpenny shone for Wales.
Room for improvement
Wales were guilty of far too many unforced errors in the first-half, with Rhys Priestland’s fumble from a high ball leading to the games opening try. After 11 weeks out, Sam Warburton was ring-rusty and outgunned at the breakdown by David Pocock who outpointed his rival in round one of the three Test Series. Pocock showed his skills as a master fetcher in a complete performance.
In quotes Winners
Australian captain David Pocock: “I thought Will (Genia) and Berrick (Barnes) played really well. We just got the ball in their half and then fought hard. It’s great to get the first win, we were up against a classy Welsh side tonight.”
In quotes Losers
Wales coach Rob Howley: “We got back into the game at 20-19 and there were moments then when opportunities presented themselves we should have taken. “We have lost a Test match which we had a golden opportunity to win. We are disappointed.”
Australia made 105 tackles to Wales’ 106, while Wales made 437 metres with the ball to Australia’s 417
Australia made 127 passes to Wales’ 126
Dan Lydiate made the most tackles with 18, followed by Sam Warburton with 12. Prop Benn Robinson was the only Australian player to make it into double figures with 12.
Will Genia was the game’s most successful ball-carrier with 116 metres made, followed by Wales’ Alex Cuthbert with 105.
AUSTRALIA: Adam Ashley-Cooper; Cooper Vuna, Rob Horne (Anthony Faingaa, reversed 55, Vuna 71), Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane; Berrick Barnes, Will Genia; Benn Robinson (Ben Alexander 58), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Stephen Moore 55), Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Nathan Sharpe (Dave Dennis 64), Scott Higginbotham, David Pocock, Wycliff Palu (Michael Hooper 58)
Replacements not used: Nicholas White, Mike Harris
Tries: Higginbotham, Genia, McCabe Pen: Barnes. Cons: Barnes. 3 Drop: Barnes.
WALES: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams (Ashley Beck 55), George North (James Hook 28); Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens (Matthew Rees 51), Adam Jones (Paul James 75), Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris (Alun Wyn-Jones 51), Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau (Ryan Jones 51)
Replacements not used: Lloyd Williams
Try: Cuthbert. Pens: Halfpenny 4. Con: Halfpenny 1