The Wallabies tour to Europe has ended with a tense 29-28 defeat to Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. As it has been in recent times against the Welsh, it was a tight one that came down to the wire as a late Rhys Priestland penalty goal claimed the one-point victory for Wales.
It was the discipline of the Wallabies that let them down again as they played 65 minutes without Rob Valetini after he saw red for a dangerous tackle and if that wasn’t enough, they had another ten-minute period without Kurtley Beale for a deliberate knock down that saw Wales score one of their two tries.
You could also argue a few minutes of madness was the difference in the end as a Nick Tompkins try in the second half that had the Wallabies scratching their heads after the Beale yellow card, but the Wallabies regrouped to score two late tries to give themselves a chance of an unlikely win.
The Wallabies got off to a perfect start with a try to Andrew Kellaway after just three minutes as he swooped on a Hunter Paisami grubber kick on a penalty advantage. It was arguably the best attacking passage of the whole tour that started from a Nic White kick over the top that was regathered by Paisami, followed by patient build up from the forwards.
Wales responded immediately through a Dan Biggar penalty to take the sting out of the initial Wallabies attack as a few attacking rucks from the Wallabies also went penalised for going off feet one on occasion and poor clean out on another.
The game turned after just 15 minutes as Rob Valetini was red carded by referee Mike Adamson for a head on head tackle on Welsh lock Adam Beard after he went in too high into contact.
The Wallabies copped another blow just minutes later as Kurtley Beale saw yellow for a deliberate knock down after 50 looks at the vision from the TMO, and Wales took full advantage of the two-man advantage to score from the resulting lineout through Ryan Elias.
In among all the madness, James O’Connor kicked two penalties to get the Wallabies back level at 13-13 as they started to roll up their sleeves to match their efforts in the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool game against the same opposition with Rory Arnold doing his best to disrupt a Welsh maul in his own 22.
Even Andrew Kellaway got a run on the side of the scrum that earnt a penalty but he would later leave the field for a HIA after being penalised for jumping too early on a high ball.
Wales went to the sheds ahead at 16-13 after Biggar’s third penalty from right in front of the sticks but would be disappointed they didn’t come away with more with their advantage.
The second half started with Taniela Tupou having to leave the field with a leg injury in some discomfort but that wasn’t the worst thing Wallabies fans would see for the half.
Welsh centre Nick Tompkins had everyone fooled as he knocked the ball down with the Wallabies trying to run the ball out of their half and ran to the line and as everyone stopped, assuming there would be the ref’s whistle, the try stood as a bemused James Slipper heard the ruling from Mike Adamson as Wales took a ten-point lead.
Allan Alaalatoa would have been feeling nervous at one incident at a tackle, but it was opposing prop Gareth Thomas who saw yellow for a dangerous clean out with an arm to the head that looked like the incident Alaalatoa saw yellow for in the Scotland game.
With everything seemingly against them, it was the Wallabies who scored next through Nic White after Beale found a break on the outside of the Welsh defence and found Len Ikitau before offloading to White who dived for the line after being brought down short of the line.
With ten minutes remaining, the Wallabies put themselves in a position of winning as Filipo Daugunu scored in the left corner after some quick hands from the forwards out on the left after an initial break from Paisami. O’Connor’s conversion attempt from wide out hit the post to make it a one-point game.
Will Skelton, who been quiet in the two previous games, finally made a big impact in securing a crucial penalty that saw Kurtley Beale to step up and land a penalty goal from around 45 metres out and give the Wallabies the lead in the 77th minute.
But there was late drama as Wales found space down the left wing and were camped on the Wallabies line before being awarded a penalty that saw Rhys Priestland kick the winning penalty goal after the 80 minutes had expired.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Kellaway, White, Daugunu
Conversions: O’Connor 2
Penalties: O’Connor 2, Beale
Tries: Elias, Tompkins
Conversions: Biggar 2
Penalties: Biggar 4, Priestland
15 min – Valetini (Wallabies) – Red
22 min – Beale (Wallabies) – Yellow
57 mins – G. Thomas (Wales) – Yellow