Australia too good for Wales again
MATCH REPORT: Australia racked up a 13th straight victory over Wales with a 29-21 win in Cardiff on Saturday.
Tatafu Polota-Nau, Adam Coleman, captain Michael Hooper and fullback Kurtley Beale crossed for the Wallabies with flyhalf Bernard Foley kicking three conversions and Reece Hodge a long-distance penalty.
Wales' tries came courtesy of Scarlets winger Steffan Evans and replacement Dragons paceman Hallam Amos, while Leigh Halfpenny kicked 11 points.
To their credit Wales had the crowd on their feet for the majority of the game with their decision to implement a more expansive style of rugby resulting in an entertaining spectacle.
But the usual off-shoot of high risk rugby is more errors, with Warren Gatland's men guilty of numerous handling errors.
They also struggled to effectively stop Australia’s ball carriers, the Wallabies able to cross the gain line far too easily and dominate the breakdown.
Wales made a strong start when Halfpenny slotted a penalty from 30 metres after the Wallabies were deemed to be offside.
But the home side's opening points forced the visitors into action, Polota-Nau crossing for their first try. The Leicester-bound hooker found himself at the bottom of a powerful Australian driving line-out which the home side were unable to stop.
Wales hit straight back when Scarlets wing Evans crossed for his third try in as many Tests. The score came after his regional teammate Gareth Davies made a sniping break from his own half following a scrappy line-out. The ball was then recycled going through the hands of Dan Biggar, Owen Williams and Jonathan Davies before Halfpenny put Evans over in the corner.
It didn't take long for Michael Chieka's side to hit back when giant lock Coleman crossed from short range. The build-up to the try saw Foley put in a neat cross-kick which was well covered by Halfpenny, but the ball was recycled and Will Genia was able to put the lock over.
Hodge and Halfpenny exchanged penalties, before Australian captain Hooper crossed for a simple try on the stroke of half-time meaning Cheika's men turned around 22-13 up.
Wales started the second half strongly, keeping hold of the ball far more effectively than in the first period. Their pressure was rewarded with three points from the boot of Halfpenny as he cut the deficit to just six points. Wales continued to press with pocket dynamo Evans causing mayhem in the Australian ranks with his pace and electric footwork.
But again Wales' ambition was to be their undoing when fullback Beale ripped the ball from the hands of Evans to race in unopposed from 50 metres out to knock the stuffing out of the hosts.
Wales did have some reward for their pressure when Hooper was sent to the sin bin after he was judged to have entered a ruck from the side. With the flank missing, the Welsh scrum was able to gain the upper hand shoving the Wallabies back at a rate of knots.
But despite that, Wales could not turn pressure into points with captain Alun Wyn Jones coming close when he knocked the ball forward over the tryline.
The hosts did at least get a consolation try when Amos crossed in the left-hand corner following a perfectly weighted Jonathan Davies grubber, but it was all too little too late.
Man of the match: Bernard Foley was good in the No.10 position, while Kurtley Beale also had some nice touches and he scored a remarkable try. However, the award goes to Will Genia for his decision-making and his all-round play in the No.9 jersey
Moment of the match: Kurtley Beale's try in the 63rd minute definitely took the game away from the Welsh.
Villain of the match: There was no real villain, but the Welsh will not be pleased with Taulupe Faletau's handling in this match.
Try: Evans, Amos
Pens: Halfpenny 3
Tries: Polota-Nau, Coleman, Hooper, Beale
Cons: Foley 3
Yellow card: Michael Hooper (Australia, 68 - cynical play, slowing the ball down)
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Owen Watkin, 23 Hallam Amos.
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Karmichael Hunt, 23 Henry Speight.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Ian Tempest (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
AFP & @rugby365com