Wales 29-28 Australia: Wayne Pivac’s side edge Dave Rennie’s Wallabies by a single point in Cardiff after Rhys Priestland’s decisive late penalty kick
- Wales scored a dramatic late penalty via Rhys Priestland to beat Australia 29-28
- Australia’s Rob Valetini was shown an early red card for a high tackle in Cardiff
- Kurtley Beale’s last-gasp penalty looked to have won the match for the Wallabies
- But substitute fly-half Priestland, 34, stepped up nervelessly to seal the game
Lady luck wore a daffodil hat in Cardiff as Wales ended their autumn sneaking past Australia by a single point on a night of high drama.
Not only did the Wallabies have No 8 Rob Valetini sent-off 15 minutes in, but saw Kurtley Beale yellow-carded and a Nick Tompkins try awarded agains them that might not have been.
However they rallied to all but win the game when Beale kicked a penalty with three minutes left.
Lady luck shone on Wales as Wayne Pivac’s side edged a 29-28 win against Australia in Cardiff
But Wales, showing classic resilience, stole it with the last shot of the game, Rhys Priestland hitting a penalty after Australia had dived off their feet trying to prevent a Welsh try.
As the replacement fly-half lined it up Wayne Pivac up in the stands could not watch. He briefly stood up and puffed out his cheeks before nervously re-taking his seat.
When the ball bisected the posts, though, he rose with two arms aloft to hail a victory he so needed.
Wales had to win it. They led 26-13, after a Ryan Elias try and kicks from Dan Biggar, before the Aussies – another nation that never gives in – hauled themselves off the canvas.
Nic White and Filipo Daugunu scored, but a pivotal missed conversion from James O’Connor left them agonisingly short at the end.
Wales were desperate for a slice of fortune this autumn. Their injury list has been savage, with 16 out for this, and so they went into the Wallabies game with fingers crossed and backs against the wall. Usually in that mood, they win.
Within 25 minutes Pivac would have been grinning like a Cheshire Cat. It was less the score – as at half-time his side were only 16-13 ahead – but the fact that Australia had shot themselves in both feet, going down to 13 men.
First No 8 Valetini was sent-off for a poor head-on-head hit on Adam Beard which knocked the lock out 15 minutes in.
He had to go, and when he did was the sixth opposing player to be shown a red card against Wales in the 12 Tests they have played in 2021, after Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony, Scotland’s, Zander Fagerson, Paul Willemse of France, Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallia and Eroni Sau for Fiji last week.
Next Beale knocked a Tompkins offload down illegally, as the centre tried to put Louis Rees-Zammit away on the right, and was yellow carded.
So Wales had all the help they could get. When Beale had walked they immediately took advantage, Tomos Williams bursting blind to feed Elias who had hung on the right wing, the hooker scoring his fourth Test try.
The problem otherwise, though, was that Wales’ scrum and driving lineout were poor once again. Tomas Francis and Wyn Jones struggled in the set-piece and the Wallabies stopped the Welsh every time when they went to maul.
Australia had scored right at the start, with Hunter Paisami kicking a glorious no-look grubber through for Andrew Kellaway. Otherwise they and Wales shared two penalties each in the first half.
The night often smiled for Wales. Next they were awarded a try that in other circumstances would have been chalked off. Paisami passed wide and Tompkins stuck out an arm to block it, the ball dropping down.
He regathered as Australia stopped, checking to see whether he had knocked it on, but when referee Mike Adamson encouraged him to play on he did and ran in a score 35 metres.
Marius Jonker the TMO had a look, and the officials agreed as the ball had not been knocked on the try stood – the thinnest of lines between Beale’s knock-down and Tompkins’ legal intercept.
Dan Biggar’s conversion had Wales 10 ahead but they still had time to make some stupid decisions. Gareth Thomas unnecessarily hit Allan Alaalatoa in the face with a swinging arm by a ruck and was yellow-carded just before the hour mark.
Once the numbers were even, the Aussies went on the assault. White scored a converted try under the posts after a great Paisami break, Biggar kicked a penalty to ease Welsh concern, but then Daugunu dived in.
O’Connor’s conversion struck a post, but Beale’s hit his penalty as Wales’ luck looked to have run out.
But with the clock dead Priestland’s priceless penalty saw them snatch a third consecutive Wallaby win – the first time they had done that since 1975.