By Reece Chambers at the Principality Stadium
Warren Gatland’s Wales ended a 10 year winless-run versus Australia was a tense 9-6 win over the Wallabies.
The autumn international at the Principality Stadium proved a tight affair between two sides clearly lacking consistency through the backs as well as at set-pieces.
Penalty conversions from Leigh Halfpenny (two) and Dan Biggar gave Wales a famous win in the Welsh capital.
Both sides were limited to few chances throughout the game but it was Wales who proved most clinical from the tee.
The win for Wales gives the national side their second consecutive win in as many Autumn International games in November.
For a game between two of the highest-ranking teams in Test rugby, the first half certainly didn’t showcase their full abilities.
With the fact that it took 20 minutes for either side to register points on the board, there was a clear lack of fluidity about the play from both sides. Both sides failed to exert any sort of authority at set-pieces with scrums and line-outs often being turned over.
In the opening minutes, it looked as if Australia would register the opening points as strong running from Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale had tested the Welsh defence. However, a combination of handling errors from the likes of Adam Coleman and strong Welsh defending resulted in a disappointing visit to the Welsh 22 for the visitors.
The Welsh line-out failed to get rhythm in the first half as Australia managed to turn the ball over on a number of occasions in threatening positions for the Dragons.
Leigh Halfpenny had an uncharacteristic first half with the boot – missing two of his three penalty kicks – but he was able to register the first points of the game from the tee.
Australia then levelled the scores five minutes before half time with a kick from the tee, courtesy of Bernard Foley.
Into the second half, Wales started with an intent that was lacking in the first half. Despite their best efforts, though, the Welsh attack were thwarted by a stubborn and resilient defence.
Around the hour mark, Wales’ ill-discipline at the breakdown resulted in a succession of Australian penalties. Despite their proximity to the Welsh posts, Australia elected to go for the corner on three occasions.
Such a risk didn’t pay off for the Wallabies as they failed to break the Welsh defence. Australian hooker Tolu Latu had a golden opportunity at an attacking maul but clumsily knocked on for the visitors.
Man-of-the-match Justin Tipuric proved to be an important part of the Welsh breakdown weaponry when he turned over the ball on several occasions in the second half for Gatland’s side. He yet again showcased his ability to be able to cope with the responsibilities on his shoulders now Sam Warburton has retired.
On 68 minutes, Halfpenny gave Wales an all-important lead from the tee. His kicking was inconsistent during the first half with two missed kicks – however, the full-back slotted with ease just before the final 10 minutes.
Nevertheless, the Wallabies levelled the scores for the second time in the game when To’omua converted from the tee following an infringement at the breakdown from Wales.
However, substitute Dan Biggar gave Wales the win in the 77th minute when he converted a penalty from the 22m line.
Having only been on the pitch a matter of minutes, Biggar’s kick showed no signs of needing to ease himself into the game as he made sure of a famous 9-6 win for Warren Gatland’s side.
Wales next face Tonga at the Principality Stadium in their third and
penultimate autumn international match.