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Wales losing run continues with narrow defeat to Australia in Sydney

06 Jul 2024 4 minute read
Ben Thomas scores the first of three Wales penalties against Australia. Image via YouTube

Wales’ long run of defeats continued despite a battling performance in Sydney as they were beaten 25-16 by Australia.

It was their 12th successive loss to the Wallabies in Australia, and eighth on the bounce against all opponents.

Warren Gatland’s team have not won a Test match since they saw off 2023 World Cup pool opponents Georgia nine months ago, but they pushed new-look Australia close at the Allianz Stadium.

Wales crushed Australia 40-6 at the World Cup, yet Eddie Jones’ head coach successor Joe Schmidt enjoyed a winning start to his reign following tries from prop Taniela Tupou, wing Filipo Daugunu and full-back Tom Wright.

Wallabies fly-half Noah Lolesio kicked a conversion and two penalties, while Tom Lynagh – son of Australia World Cup winner Michael Lynagh – added the extras to Wright’s touchdown.

Wales’ last win against Australia came in 1969, and there were times when they threatened to end that sequence, posting a penalty try and three penalties from fly-half Ben Thomas.

But Australia had just enough in the tank, with Wright’s try 11 minutes from time sealing the deal and finally subduing a spirited Wales display.

Promising start

Wales made a promising start and were ahead after just three minutes when Thomas kicked a long-range penalty after Wallabies prop James Slipper’s dangerous tackle on Dewi Lake, but Lolesio quickly cancelled out that strike.

Lolesio missed a penalty chance four minutes later, but he then booted Australia ahead after Wales infringed at the game’s first scrum as poor technical discipline began to surface.

Referee Pierre Brousset issued a team warning to skipper Lake, and Australia breached the Welsh defence after 21 minutes when Tupou went over following relentless pressure, with Lolesio’s conversion opening up a 10-point lead.

Brousset’s patience ran out as he yellow-carded Wales prop Gareth Thomas, yet the visitors responded impressively to that setback.

Wing Rio Dyer touched down behind Australia’s line, although the score was ruled out following a knock-on by centre Owen Watkin, before Wales gained a penalty try after the Wallabies illegally collapsed a maul on their own line.

It brought Wales back to just three points adrift, and Australia had a player yellow-carded as a result with flanker Fraser McReight being sent from the field.

Wales continued to have scrummaging issues, with the powerful Tupou proving a particular handful, but they were strong in other areas through strong breakdown and defensive work.

And they remained firmly in contention at the halfway point, trailing 13-10 following an impressive second quarter.

Gareth Thomas went off early in the second period after taking a blow to his leg, being replaced by Scarlets prop Kemsley Mathias, and Wales pressed after a promising attack that involved Liam Williams and debutant Josh Hathaway.

Solo score

Fly-half Thomas drew Wales level through a 46th-minute penalty, but Australia went back in front after a fine solo score by Daugunu, who outstripped defending centre Mason Grady on a race to the line.

Wales then thought they had drawn level when they drove Australia’s forwards backwards and replacement James Botham went over just seconds after joining the action.

But the try was ruled out for obstruction and Australia escaped on the back of what appeared to be a marginal call following consultation between Brousset and television match official Marius Jonker.

Thomas completed his penalty hat-trick 14 minutes from time to guarantee a tense finale, but the closing stages belonged to Wright, who rounded off a brilliant counter-attack, before Lynagh’s conversion completed the scoring.

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8 days ago

This highly-paid Welsh team need to start playing like professionals not like bloody amateurs. Pay them on performance. That should buck up their ideas. If they don’t like it, well…… there’s the door!! We are constantly given excuses for poor performance like “learn by our mistakes” or “they’re a young team”. Currently they do not deserve the loyal support they are given!!

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