Wales 29-28 Australia: Wayne Pivac’s side edge Dave Rennie’s Wallabies by a single point in Cardiff


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 were aggrieved to see a Nick Tompkins try awarded against them after Kurtley Beale had seen yellow for a similar knock-down incident.

However they rallied to all but win the game when Beale kicked a penalty with three minutes left.

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.

Lady luck shone on Wales as Wayne Pivac’s side edged a 29-28 win against Australia in Cardiff

Replacement fly-half Rhys Priestland (No 22) was mobbed after scoring the winning penalty

Replacement fly-half Rhys Priestland (No 22) was mobbed after scoring the winning penalty

Wayne Pivac up in the stands could hardly watch the end. He briefly stood up and puffed out his cheeks before nervously re-taking his seat as Priestland kicked.

When the ball bisected the posts 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.

Prop Gareth Thomas (left) was sin-binned, allowing Australia to surge back into the game

Prop Gareth Thomas (left) was sin-binned, allowing Australia to surge back into the game

After Australia’s boss Dave Rennie raged at the decision to award Tompkins’ try.

‘I thought some of the decision-making by the officials was horrendous and played a big part in the result,’ he said.

‘Kurtley Beale got sin-binned for slapping the ball down, they do the same thing and it clearly goes forward and they get seven points. I’m obviously really disappointed with the result and the officiating.

‘We’ll end up getting an apology next week, but it won’t help the result. We had the same TMO (Marius Jonker) last week against Scotland who made a mess of decisions there too. It’s not good enough.

‘Is there any accountability in guys deciding Test matches? In 20 years I’ve never had a crack at a ref – but I feel I have to tonight.’

Pivac quipped back: ‘I don’t think it’s a knock-on personally, nor did the referee, the TMO, the touch judges or anyone in our coaching box. We were obviously quite pleased with that call.

But Wallabies No 10 James O'Connor (pictured) missed a conversion and it proved crucial

But Wallabies No 10 James O’Connor (pictured) missed a conversion and it proved crucial

‘It just goes to show that you can’t switch off and stop. You’ve got to play to the whistle. You tell that to five-year-olds.

On the finale, Pivac added: ‘Rhys Priestland coming back into the international scene, to kick that, he’ll be a happy man tonight. Those situations are cruel, one team has to be on the receiving end of a kick like that.’

Wales were desperate for a slice of fortune this autumn. Their injury list was savage, with 16 out, and so they went in with fingers crossed and backs against the wall. Usually in that mood, they win.

When Valetini was red-carded for a poor high hit that knocked out Adam Beard, Pivac would have been grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

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.

Beale’s slap-down, when Tompkins sought Louis Rees-Zammit, had Australia down to 13.

Wales immediately took advantage – Tomos Williams bursting blind off a lineout to find Elias lurking on the wing for a try to chalk off Andrew Kellaway’s opener which was gloriously assisted by a no-look grubber kick from Hunter Paisami.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac (right) will look back with satisfaction on a hard-fought victory

Wales coach Wayne Pivac (right) will look back with satisfaction on a hard-fought victory

Otherwise Dan Biggar and James O’Connor swapped two first-half penalties each.

After the break the night smiled for Wales. Tompkins blocked Paisami’s wide pass, it dropped down, everyone stopped except him so he ran away to score. TMO Jonker and referee Mike Adamson agreed it had not gone forward, so it stood.

Biggar converted to push Wales 10 ahead, but then Gareth Thomas unnecessarily hit Allan Alaalatoa in the face with a swinging-arm by a ruck and was yellow-carded.

With the numbers even Australia went on the assault. Their two tries and Beale’s penalty saw them lead by two. But with the clock dead Priestland’s priceless penalty saw Wales snatch a third consecutive Wallaby win – the first time they had done that since 1975.

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