Australia 15-6 Wales: Wallabies withstand Welsh onslaught to top Pool A
- Bernard Foley kicks five penalties while Dan Biggar kicks two as Australia win
- The Wallabies win Pool A and therefore will now face Scotland in the quarter-finals
- After finishing second Warren Gatland’s men will face South Africa in the final eight
- Michael Cheika’s men held on despite being down to 13 men for a long period in the second half
There were no tries in this tussle but it was a scintillating battle nonetheless, with five penalties from Aussie flyhalf Bernard Foley winning the match for the men in gold.
A Herculean effort from the Wallabies kept the Welsh Dragon at bay, as Australia survived a 13 minute onslaught with a two man disadvantage in the second half.
Michael Cheika’s men cemented their status as second favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for an unprecedented third time, and Scotland’s celebrations may now be cut short faced with the prospect of trying to breakthrough what looked to be an impenetrable Australian defence.
Wales will be scratching their heads as to how they were unable to score when they were two players to the good, and Warren Gatland will now have to regroup his troops as they now face South Africa in the quarter finals.
An electric start to this match saw Wales steal the ball from an Australian scrum, and put huge pressure on the Aussie defence.
The Welsh backs had men over and a kick through was gathered by George North, but the wing, fielded at centre, was held up.
Wales were content to come away with three points, and Dan Biggar swept the ball home to put them 3-0 up on five minutes.
Australia were on the ropes but they were eventually able to clear their lines from a penalty after being camped in their own 22 for far longer than they would like.
Bernard Foley equalised for Australia on 25 minutes after a monumental midfield battle, with neither side giving an inch.
The pendulum appeared to have swung the way of the men in gold, and despite coming close to crossing the whitewash, they came away with a further three points through Foley to take the lead for the first time.
Fidgety Biggar ensured that it did not last long, and levelled up just three minutes later.
Craig Joubert warned Wales captain Sam Warburton that any further infringement from his men would see one of the sent to the sin bin, after Taulupe Faletau was penalised for kicking the ball out of Aussie hands.
Foley went for the posts and edged the Wallabies in front once again, but Biggar was unable to respond as he missed his first penalty of the tournament so far.
The last action of the half saw Matt Giteau almost fire home a 55 metre three pointer, but his decent effort did not quite have the legs.
No further score in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the relentless pace and brutality did not let up.
Faletau was again marked for a neck roll but conceded nothing more than a penalty, and Foley doubled the Wallabies’ lead on 51 minutes.
Huge pressure from Wales once again began to tell, and they looked to turn the screw as scrumhalf Will Genia was shown a yellow card for Australia.
Faletau was at the centre of another key moment as he looked to have scored the first try of the game. However, the TMO identified that he lost the ball forward when trying to ground it.
Disaster for Australia on the hour mark as a second player was sent to the bin, with lock Dean Mumm also seeing yellow.
A battered and bruised David Pocock was substituted for Rob Simmons, with the quarter final in Michael Cheika’s forethoughts.
Wales were odds on to score that elusive try with a clear overlap down the right wing, but George North was remarkably held up by substitute Ben McCalman.
Australia defended as if they had a two man advantage rather than deficit, with a Herculean effort withstanding wave after wave of relentless Welsh attack.
The men in gold continued to show their Championship credentials as they came away unscathed from a tense 10 minutes.
Australia almost scored a try whilst still one man down but it was soon 15 v 15 once again and Foley scored the first points of the half to make it 15-6.
It was Wales’ turn to go a man down on 77 minutes as Alex Cuthbert was guilty of committing a deliberate knock on with Australia threatening to score the first try of the game.
Foley squandered the chance to kill the game off and surpass Greig Laidlaw as top points scorer at this World Cup, but they held on to win this scrap 15-6.
What comes next for both
Australia played this game as if it was the World Cup final, and they now march into their quarter final against Scotland as overwhelming favourites to progress to the last four. Much was made before hand of the absence of Michael Hooper, but David Pocock and co ensured that his absence was not felt in the slightest. This will go down as one of the best defensive displays in Rugby World Cup history, but as relieved as coach Michael Cheika will be with the result, he will be deeply concerned that his side were reduced to 13 men. Rest and recuperation will now be key with Scotland set to play the game of their lives next Sunday.
Wales will be both physically and psychologically battered by this result, as they simply had to press home their advantage at this level. Warren Gatland will have his work cut out getting his men in the right mindset to tackle free scoring South Africa. The Red Dragon played to a high tempo and looked threatening throughout the 80 minutes, but a failure to convert their territory and possession into points will need to be addressed before that mouth watering clash with the Springboks.
Man of the match- Scott Fardy
A massive team effort kept Wales at bay, but flanker Scott Fardy provided added force to the scrum and made 11 critical tackles throughout the match. Only teammate Kane Douglas made more, but Fardy also won two turnovers and acted as a linchpin for pressure relieving counter attacks, as the Aussie forwards stood defiant until the end.
Australia: 15. Israel Folau; 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Giteau (Matt Toomua 66), 11. Drew Mitchell (Kurtley Beale. 66); 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Will Genia (Nick Phipps 67); 8. David Pocock (Rob Simmons 60), 7. Sean McMahon (Ben McCalman 48), 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Dean Mumm, 4. Kane Douglas, 3. Sekope Kepu (Greg Holmes 55), 2. Stephen Moore (Tatafu Polota-Nau 66), 1. Scott Sio (James Slipper 62)
Wales: 15. Gareth Anscombe; 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. George North, 12. Jamie Roberts (Lloyd Williams 80) , 11. Liam Williams (James Hook 74); 10. Dan Biggar (Rhys Priestland 74), 9. Gareth Davies; 8. Taulupe Faletau, 7. Justin Tipuric (Ross Moriarty 73), 6. Sam Warburton, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 4. Charteris, 3. Samson Lee (Tomas Francis 53), 2. Scott Baldwin (Ken Owens 72), 1. Paul James (Aaron Jarvis 72)