Clinical Australia scores 4 tries, beats Wales 29-21
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) Australia fed off Wales’ errors and ran in four tries in a clinical 29-21 victory in Cardiff on Saturday, extending its winning streak over the Welsh to 13 test matches.
The Wallabies have played seven tests since their opponent’s last, and their match sharpness told in the first half when Wales paid the price for failing to clear its lines at restarts and for its ambitious, high-tempo game plan.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau rolled over at the back of a maul, lock Adam Coleman crashed over from close range, and flanker Michael Hooper squirmed over the line at an overlap to help Australia to 22-13 at halftime.
Wales had the better of the second half under the Principality Stadium roof, but was hit by a sucker-punch when on the attack at 22-16 down. Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale stole the ball from Steff Evans and raced 60 meters to ground between the posts in the 63rd minute.
The Australians stretched their unbeaten run to seven tests – including a victory over world champion New Zealand last month – and haven’t lost to Wales since 2008, a run that includes eight straight wins in Cardiff. They also play Australia and Scotland this month.
The match finished on a sour note for Wales as star center Jonathan Davies was taken off on a motorized stretcher after the fulltime whistle with an apparent ankle injury.
Evans and replacement winger Hallam Amos scored tries either side of halftime for the Welsh, whose new-look style ushered in by coach Warren Gatland – featuring playmakers at No. 10 and No. 12 to mark the end of the so-called ”Warrenball” approach – led to a refreshing positivity behind the scrum, especially in the second half.
But they will rue their poor exit strategy from kickoffs, when they coughed up possession in their own 22 before Australia’s second and third tries.
Evans’ try on the left wing, following a darting break from scrumhalf Gareth Davies and then a sweeping cross-field passing move, was converted to put Wales 10-7 ahead but Australia was opportunistic for the rest of the half.
Hooper’s try was his 15th – the most scored by an Australia forward – and came in first-half injury time, leaving the Welsh a big task in the second half.
Leigh Halfpenny kicked a 52nd-minute penalty and Wales was only three points behind when Beale stripped Evans inside his own half, near the touchline. Replays showed the fullback might have knocked on in doing so, but it wasn’t spotted, allowing Australia to push 13 points clear after Bernard Foley’s conversion.
Hooper was sent to the sin-bin in the 68th after repeated team infringements by Australia and Amos squeezed over in the left corner just after the flanker returned to the field. It came too late for the Welsh, who haven’t won their opening game of an autumn series since 2002.