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Wallabies outlast willing Wales

MATCH REPORT: The Joe Schmidt era started with a 25-16 win for Australia over a willing Wales team.

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The Wallabies outscored Wales by three tries to one in an arm wrestle in Sydney on Saturday.

Taniela Tupou, Filipo Daugunu and Tom Wright all crossed for tries as an energised Australia kickstarted a new era after the chaotic reign of Eddie Jones.

Warren Gatland’s Wales slumped to their eighth straight loss and will see the Welsh drop out of the top 10 on the world rankings.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

* Article continues below

A bruising first-half in front of 35,945 fans saw two yellow cards – one for each side – and ended with the hosts just three points ahead at 13-10.

The Wallabies turned on the afterburners in the second half, capped by a sensational 60-metre solo try from weaving fullback Wright that broke the Welsh resolve.

It was an encouraging start for Schmidt, who took over from Jones after Australia’s disastrous 2023 World Cup campaign where they failed to make the quarterfinals for the first time.

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Despite limited preparation, his new-look squad, skippered by Liam Wright for the first time and with a host of debutants, showed flashes of brilliance.

They dominated possession, a trait Schmidt instilled in Ireland when he led them to become the No.1 team in the world and won the breakdown battle.

But they also suffered from ill-discipline, conceding 12 penalties.

Wales’s discipline was also poor with defeat heaping more pressure on Gatland, whose team thrashed Australia 40-6 at the World Cup but has now lost eight on the trot.

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It is their longest run without a win since 2012, when they slumped to eight defeats during Gatland’s first spell in charge.

Wales has been winless in Australia for 12 matches stretching back to 1969, with one more Test in Melbourne next week to stop the rot.

They arrived without several injured players and made six changes from the team that lost heavily to South Africa a fortnight ago.

They opened the scoring when Ben Thomas nailed a long-range penalty in the second minute after a dangerous tackle by James Slipper.

But the hosts hit back immediately with a penalty of their own, converted by Noah Lolesio who slotted another from distance soon after to give them the lead.

With Australia seeing far more of the ball, the first try came on 20 minutes with big prop Tupou barging over after a series of pick-and-drives.

Adding to Welsh woes, prop Gareth Thomas was sin-binned.

But the visitors persevered and won a penalty try minutes later after a maul was pulled down, which saw Australia’s Fraser McReight yellow-carded to leave the sides with 14 men each.

Wales levelled the scores soon after the interval with a successful penalty, but winger Daugunu then spotted a gap on the right and darted through with his momentum helping him slide over the try line.

Another pin-point penalty from Thomas narrowed the gap to two points with 15 minutes left before Wright’s cracking try and Tom Lynagh’s conversion put the game beyond reach.

The scorers

For Australia
Tries: Tupou, Daugunu, Wright
Cons: Lolesio, Lynagh
Pens: Lolesio 2

For Wales
Try: Penalty try
Con: Penalty try does not require a conversion,
Pens: Thomas 3

Yellow cards: Gareth Thomas (Wales, 20 – repeated infringements, offside), Fraser McReight (Australia, 25 – cynical foul, illegally collapsing maul)

Teams:

Australia: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (captain), 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Jeremy Williams, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Billy Pollard, 17 Issac Kailea, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Charlie Cale, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Tom Lynagh, 23 Dylan Pietsch.

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Hathaway, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Mason Grady, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Ben Thomas, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Taine Plumtree, 5 Dafydd Jenkins, 4 Christ Tshiunza, 3 Archie Griffin, 2 Dewi Lake (captain), 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Botham, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Nick Tompkins.

Referee: Pierre Brousset
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe, James Doleman
TMO: Marius Jonker

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