The Welsh Dragon was close to roaring Saturday in a place known as a “Land Down Under,” (Danger, cheesy video link) as their match with Australia teetered back-and-forth like a prize fight in the final quarter of the game.
The current Six Nations champs, the Welsh have looked incredibly strong in recent matches, reaching the 2011 Rugby World Cup semifinals only to lose 9-8 to France; and winning their third Six Nations title in six years. Their tour of Australia has been no different.
Mistakes turned out to be the name of the game for Wales throughout the first 60 minutes as each time Wales started to drive they’d get hit with a penalty, or knock the ball forward. Australia was able to capitalize on many of those penalty kick attempts.
In fact, much of the game was based around penalty kicks, in a stark contrast to the All Blacks-Ireland tryfest. Australia’s flyhalf Barrick Barnes traded shots with Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny for much of the first half before Welsh #8 Ryan Jones took advantage of Wales’ attack to score the game’s first try, and thanks to a successful Halfpenny conversion Wales held onto a 16-12 momentary lead.
Because shortly after the game resumed Australia responded with their own try from centre Rob Horne, which had to be confirmed by the TV Monitoring Official. Barnes missed the conversion kick, which left Australia with a precarious one point lead, 17-16.
In the last ten minutes of the match, Wales and Australia traded the lead as each team scored penalty goals, with Australia holding onto to the win.
While Australia did take the series 3-0, all three of the Wallabies’ wins were close – the largest margin being 8 points in the first match in Brisbane. This should be taken more as a sign of Wales’ continued positive team development than it is of Australia taking it easy on their visitors from the North.