Wales hold on for a narrow victory against the Wallabies in Tokyo
Played – 43
Australia wins – 30
Wales wins – 12
Draws – 1
Did You Know?
- 23 is the most points Wales have scored in a half against Australia in 111 years and 29 is the most points Australia have ever conceded in a World Cup pool game.
- At 35 years and 185 days old, Adam Ashley-Cooper is now the oldest Rugby World Cup try-scorer for Australia.
- Alun Wyn Jones has become Wales’ all-time record caps holder by making his 130th Test appearance for Wales.
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In a nutshell
It was breathless stuff at Tokyo Stadium in this decisive Pool D clash. Wales bossed the first half while Australia came back strongly in the second, just as they had against Fiji last weekend. Yet the men in red ultimately held on for an important win, which will also be a huge confidence boost given these opponents have so often scored late winners over the past decade.
Wales had points on the board within 35 seconds thanks to a Dan Biggar drop-goal after his team won a quick turnover from the kick-off.
And they dominated the first quarter. The only time Australia achieved any go-forward was when Samu Kerevi was on the ball and handling errors hurt them, whereas Wales controlled possession well and kept their discipline.
Their first try came in the 13th minute when a Biggar cross-field kick was picked off by Hadleigh Parkes, who leapt above Marika Koroibete to touch down in the corner.
However, when Australia did get a chance in the Wales 22 they took it. Awarded a penalty after Josh Navidi was put under pressure at the back of the scrum, the Wallabies kicked for a lineout and Kerevi again made ground. When he was hauled down, they recycled, Bernard Foley kicked across for Adam Ashley-Cooper, who cut inside Biggar and Josh Adams for the try.
They narrowed the gap to 8-10 when Foley slotted a penalty and Wales also lost Biggar, who went for an HIA after putting his head on the wrong side when making a try-saving tackle on Kerevi and didn’t return.
Rhys Patchell’s arrival delivered more points, though, as he slotted two penalties, one from just inside the Australia half, before converting Gareth Davies’s intercept try just before the break.
The Wallabies had scored whenever Wales conceded a penalty, but as they had given away only two in the first half, they held a strong 23-8 lead at the break. Could they keep their discipline in the second half? The short answer is no.
They had already conceded twice as many penalties in the third quarter as they had in the entire first half and this allowed Australia to narrow the gap to just four points, despite Patchell extending the Welsh lead with an early drop-goal.
Matt To’omua made a big difference when coming on early in the second half. Soon after, Dane Haylett-Petty went over after the Wallabies had pressurised the Welsh line and David Pocock provided the scoring pass.
Then came a series of penalties for Australia and they continually opted for the five-metre lineout followed by pick-and-goes when their maul was stopped. Eventually Michael Hooper touched down next to the post.
Despite such an impressive first half, you felt it could go the way of so many of these Wales-Australia matches over the years, with the Wallabies taking the lead in the closing minutes and securing the victory.
Yet Wales managed to regain some composure and, with To’omua and Patchell exchanging penalties, they retained that four-point advantage. Plenty of Welsh fans would have been biting their fingernails before the final whistle blew, but their side’s defence held out a late Australia onslaught to put Warren Gatland’s side in pole position in Pool D.
Samu Kerevi was a constant threat whenever he had the ball in hand and Matt To’omua certainly changed the dynamic of Australia’s attack when he arrived early in the second half – the Wallabies won that period 17-6.
However, it was Gareth Davies who was at the heart of everything that Wales did well in the first half as they built a big lead that allowed them to hold on for the victory. He harried Australia attackers with his line speed in defence, delivered quick ball to his back-line and, of course, crossed for that interception try.
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Wales coach Warren Gatland: “It became a typical Wales-Australia clash, going down right to the wire. The players showed great composure and I think our bench made some real impact as well, so to win was very pleasing. It means the pool is in our own destiny.”
Australia replacement Matt To’omua: “If we had played football for 90 minutes maybe (we could have won), we just gave them too much of a lead. Once we relaxed and started playing we really felt like we had them on the legs.”
Australia: Dane Haylett-Petty; Adam Ashley-Cooper (Kurtley Beale 48), James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete; Bernard Foley (Matt To’omua 45), Will Genia (Nicholas White 53); Scott Sio (James Slipper 63), Tolu Latu (Jordan Uelese 66), Allan Alaalatoa (Sekope Kepu 63), Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold (Adam Coleman 63), David Pocock, Michael Hooper (captain), Isi Naisarani (Lukhan Salakaia-Loto 68).
Tries: Ashley-Cooper 21, Haylett-Petty 47, Hooper 63. Cons: To’omua 2. Pens: Foley, To’omua.
Wales: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes (Owen Watkin 70), Josh Adams; Dan Biggar (Rhys Patchell 28), Gareth Davies (Tomos Williams 70); Wyn Jones (Nicky Smith 49), Ken Owens (Elliot Dee 66), Tom Francis (Dillon Lewis 63), Jake Ball (Aaron Shingler 63), Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Aaron Wainwright (Ross Moriarty 49), Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.
Tries: Parkes 13, G Daves 38. Cons: Biggar, Patchell. Pens: Patchell 3. DG: Biggar, Patchell.
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