Wales comeback stuns Australia
By Graeme Mair. Last Updated: 26/11/05 7:00pm
International Match, Millennium Stadium, Saturday November 26
Wales scored twice in the second half to edge an exciting contest 24-22 against Australia at the Millennium Stadium.
A penalty try and a long range Shane Williams effort ensured Wales recovered from a 14-6 deficit early in the second period.
The Wallabies crossed on three occasions through Lote Tuqiri, Nathan Sharpe and Chris Latham, but were let down when their forward effort fell apart as the game progressed.
Wales started at a ferocious pace - skipper Gareth Thomas' kick and chase moved them deep into Australian territory on the opening raid.
But their early dominance produced only a Stephen Jones penalty and after 13 minutes Tuqiri scored the opening try for Australia against the run-of-play.
Wales' disorganised defence allowed Mat Rogers to put Tuqiri over with a deft inside pass.
Another Jones penalty reduced the half-time deficit to 7-6, but within two minutes of the restart Australia had breached the Welsh line for the second time.
Lock Nathan Sharpe charged over after full back Latham had kept a flowing move alive by offloading in the tackle. Rogers added the conversion for a 14-6 lead.
Wales were looking for a way back into the match and found it by placing Australia's weak scrum under intense pressure.
The Welsh pack looked to be heading for a pushover try until David Fitter collapsed the scrum. Wales opted for another five-metre scrum which Australia again hauled down - this time referee Tony Spreadbury awarded a penalty try.
Jones added the conversion to bring Wales within a point at 14-13 and the home side immediately struck again with a flowing Williams try.
Two long mis-passes put Williams into space and the diminutive winger chipped ahead for Thomas. The Welsh captain tied up three Wallaby defenders and returned the ball to Williams who outstripped the cover defence from 30 metres out. Jones added the conversion before exchanging penalties with Rogers to give Wales a 24-17 lead entering the final quarter.
But after 73 minutes Tuqiri took advantage of some weak tackling in midfield to burst into space before chipping ahead. Latham won a foot race to the Welsh line and touched down, however, Rogers pulled his conversion from the left-hand side across the posts to leave his side 24-22 behind.
In the final moments Wales produced some strong and organised defence to comfortably repel Australia's efforts to claim victory.
After suffering at the hands of New Zealand and South Africa this autumn, Wales coach Mike Ruddock will be glad to see his side get back to somewhere near last season's Grand Slam form.