Wallabies overcome Wales in gripping Pool A decider
Australia will meet Scotland in the Rugby World Cup Quarter-Finals after a 15-6 win over Wales at Twickenham on Saturday night.
The Wallabies will meet Pool B runner-up Scotland at Twickenham in a knock-out final eight match next Sunday (Monday 2am AEDT), after clinching their pool with the victory.
Renowned for their pace and width in attack, it was a phenomenal defensive effort from the Wallabies that proved defining in the win and saw them scale the summit of the so-called “Pool of Death”.
Neither side was willing to give an inch on the scoreboard but in the end it was the men in gold that emerged victorious in a pulsating defensive showdown.
After two yellow cards in the 57th and 59th minutes, the Wallabies absorbed and held off a Welsh attacking barrage that saw the opposition camped on Australia’s line for a sustained period of over ten minutes midway through the second half.
Will Genia was first to go and the Wallabies’ mettle was tested once more when Dean Mumm was given a yellow card, with lock Rob Simmons replacing David Pocock at the same time.
An immense defensive effort from Ben McCalman in the 61st minute saw him hold George North up over the line, preventing an almost certain try for Wales, an effort that would be required by the Wallabies a second time as they battled on undermanned.
In a double blow to their opponents, Adam Ashley-Cooper forced a Wales knock-on and the Wallabies were the ones who drew the points despite all of the odds stacking against them.
Lock Kane Douglas was prolific in defence with 15 tackles, not far ahead of blindside Scott Fardy (11) in his best game of the tournament and Pocock (10) as the Wallabies went on to record almost double the amount of tackles as their opposition (126 to 69).
Australia’s 11th consecutive win over Wales was their 10th straight by a single-figure margin and proved as brutal as Wallabies coach Michael Cheika foreshadowed earlier in the week.
It was Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar who scored the opening points with a penalty kick in the fifth minute to put the Dragons three points up.
Australia’s defensive intensity held up despite the pressure and they threatened in the 21st minute with their first real attacking opportunity, though winger Drew Mitchell was ushered into touch.
Mitchell found a break a minute later but it was the kicking for goal that defined the opening half scores, in a shootout between Bernard Foley and Biggar, a dual that Foley would ultimately win.
The Wallabies started to find their ascendency in the scrum, winning two of their three scrum penalties in the match and Bernard Foley levelled scores in the 25th minute with a sideline penalty kick.
It was that ascendency in the scrum that turned the momentum the Wallabies way in the first and another Foley kick in the 31st minute saw them take the lead, 6-3.
Biggar hit back after a Sean McMahon infringement two minutes later, levelling things at 6-6 but a penalty for kicking the ball away gave Foley a chance to give Australia the crucial half-time lead.
Australia kicked off the second half using the whole width of the field but some errant passes under pressure meant they didn’t reap much reward for their attack-heavy play.
It was Foley again who stretched out the Wallabies’ lead in the 51st minute, with a Toby Felatau high tackle giving the flyhalf a shot right in front of the posts.
His only miss of the night came in the 79th minute but it didn’t matter for Australia.
While neither side yielded a try in the match, fullback Israel Folau managed to threaten, despite ankle concerns, making the most metres in the match, with 64 along with two clean breaks including one at the death where he lost his footing with just one man to beat.
Australia 15 (Benard Foley 5 pens) defeated Wales 6 (Dan Biggar 2 pens) at Twickenham Stadium.
News Source: ARU Media