Wallabies v. Wales: Wallabies Win Ugly - Green and Gold Rugby Blog
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UPDATED – Wallabies v. Wales: Wallabies Win Ugly

UPDATED – Wallabies v. Wales: Wallabies Win Ugly

The Wallabies have defeated Wales 14-12 in Cardiff, sending John Farnham skipper Nathan Sharpe out a winner.

Both sides had significant motivation to win. Wales, faced with the prospect of dropping out of the world top 8, needed a victory to ensure a favourable RWC 2015 draw. The Wallabies not only had major question marks around their form, but the motivation to get up in Sharpie’s final match.

It could and should have been an epic match, but the form of both sides heading into the clash suggested it would be a fight to the bottom — and so it was. Fought by two impatient, error-prone and kick-happy sides and punctuated often by referee Wayne Barnes’s whistle, it was hardly the best advertisement for rugby.

While the Wallabies got the win, every positive feeling is hollow.

First Half

The match opened to both sides chancing their arm with ball in hand, but being well defended against. Granted, this period of play only lasted until the fourth minute, but signs were good. Australia, having kicked off, largely kept play in the Welsh half with some good pressure.

Wayne Barnes soon gave hints as to the performance he’d display for the rest of the match. A pedant’s penalty was awarded to Australia 25 metres out and on a slight angle. (Berrick) Barnes’s dodgy groin meant that Kurtley Beale would be handling Wallaby shots at goal, and his first effort was one to forget — the relatively easy shot skewed left. 0-0.

From the restart, the sides traded aimless kicks in a game of aerial ping pong — each largely kicking to their opposite men. When Australia finally kept some ball in hand, we did little with it.

We weren’t, however, helped in our efforts by referee Barnes. Somewhat ironically (especially given the venue), Barnes erroneously called a pass forward when it, by all accounts, was back — ‘at least a metre back’ according to a biased Welsh mate of mine. In so doing, a promising Wallaby break started by Adam Ashley-Cooper was snuffed out.

This break the anomaly, the Wallabies backs and especially Beale were playing well behind the advantage line in attack in a pattern that was to continue for the bulk of the match. Though largely bereft of creativity in their efforts, anything novel that was attempted failed to trouble the Welsh defence . It was telegraphed early and easily read in advance by the solid wall of red.

In the twelfth minute and off an attacking lineout, the Wallabies mauled toward the line to good effect. As the maul broke down, Phipps spun the ball to… Mitchell. One out from the maul, it was handed to a winger lacking both support and ankle ligaments, and possession was promptly turned over. It’s these brain farts that are killing the Wallabies… and their supporters.

Soon after, it seemed the Welsh crowd had got their beers and found their seats. Suddenly, Millenium Stadium was loud, and the Welsh lifted.

That said, the rest of the half see-sawed with no real dominance by either side. Beale and Halfpenny traded penalties (three of them 50 metres-plus), and Australia went to the break up 9-6 (Halfpenny missing a simple shot at 40 minutes).

The Welsh lineout was rubbish, their scrum not so much. The Wallabies were able to, by and large, secure clean ball from the set piece. Even our restarts were passable — certainly better than those of many games past.

In the 22nd minute (for the first of many times in the match), Wales showed the Wallabies how to execute a chip kick — chasers were ready (and fast) and the ball lobbed just over the line; it was contestable.

The Wallabies, conversely, had not learned their lesson (is anyone surprised?). Frequently, long kicks went straight to either the Welsh back three and any attempted chip was comfortably covered by the men in red. (A shouted, exasperated Berrick Barnes f-bomb heard over the ref’s mic following another miscued kick was poignant.)

Our defence was rubbish in the outside channels. Wales kept finding space. Ben Tapuai had his worst game in gold, often picking the wrong man (and double-marking) and making the job that much harder for his outside men. Compounding this, the Honey Badger similarly found himself in the wrong spot a number of times. Barnes cleaned up well out the back on quite a few occasions.

Welsh impatience, some good forward play (most notably by Robinson and Pocock) and Wayne Barnes’s fastidious refereeing snuffed out many Welsh raids into the Australian 22.

Second Half

I’d written over a page of notes for the first half but I wrote less than half a page for the second. It was dour, uneventful and played out much the same as the first. Both sides committed the same errors, exhibited the same impatience and the same poor execution. The Wallabies continued to forget what support play looked like.

Stephen Moore started the half in place of TPN, with Digby Ioane and Michael Hooper soon joining him. Their contributions were noticeable and effective. Moore was good, as always, around the park, Ioane gave hints of form we’ve not seen him carry in a gold jersey in a while, and Hooper, tag-teaming with Pocock, was typically energetic.

The game rolled on, Wales kicking six points in six minutes midway through the half taking them to a 12-9 lead. So the score remained into the final minutes.

In the 79th minute, the Wallabies built a prime attacking opportunity from their own half. Some atypical patience set a good platform, upon which Berrick Barnes engineered a beautiful break, only to be tackled on the Welsh 22 without any effective support nearby. The ball was turned over and belted downfield.

All seemed lost. I was angrily scribbling, briefly snatching glances at the screen. On one of these, I saw Barnes float a great cut-out ball wide. From their own 10 metre line, Harris linked well with Dennis, sprinting down the right touchline.

Beale loomed up on Dennis’s inside shoulder, Dennis timing the pass perfectly having drawn Halfpenny in. The pass was very flat, but it was flat — that Dennis’s forward motion was halted by Halfpenny’s tackle made it appear to float forward. Beale did the rest from 30 metre out, dotting the ball down out wide to break Welsh hearts.

Sharpie, going out in style, lined up the touchline conversion. The strike was sweet, and actually in line, but it fell just short. I think we can forgive him. Bravo Bullet on a stellar career.

As for the Wallabies, well, it’s still an awfully long way to the top….

  • Jay-sus.

    What a way to sneak it, an amazing victory and im delighted Sharpie got the send off he deserved. Also this win could be hugely important in instilling that bit of doubt and worry into the Lions for next year. Alot of these welsh boys will feature and the continued losses to us will surely take a toll.

    It was however another awful, dull, uninspiring performance from the wallaby team of 2012. Only in the 79th minute do we finally decide to KEEP HOLD OF THE BALL and magically…. we score!!

    Our backline is still clueless and inept, nothing has changed as the year has gone on. We are still relying too much on one moment of sheer brilliance to grab a win when we really should offer much more. The welsh were there for the taking, their lineout was atrocious and we should beaten them well – SA and the ABs easily would have! We MUST improve ahead of next year. Lets hope the injuries will be alot less and another Hooper will be unearthed during the S15 season. Maybe even Folau could get a run in? All i know is why really need to recapture the threat in attack we had years ago as right now we are too one dimensional

    On the plus side i thought our restarts were much improved, Beale gets great height and we challenged well. TPN throwing was as memory serves 100% and our set pieces were generally quite good

    Wayne Barnes was poor and loved the sound of his whistle too much, it spoilt the game a bit. Also touch judge, uppercut yourself for ruling Cliffys beautiful hit was illegal.

    • Piggy

      I don’t think the call on Palu was the worst of the night, it was high for starters and there weren’t too many arms involved, at least he didn’t recommend a yellow.
      Wales really didn’t deserve to lose that one, but they are very similar to the Wobblies at the moment – a decent enough set of outside backs but a complete lack of a 10 that can ignite them, apart from Priestland’s kicking into the corners off penalties he was outplayed by Beale last night, which isn’t a complement to either of them.
      The lineouts ended up looking very old school by the end, unassisted jumping and slapping of the ball.

    • Brumby Runner

      The send off Sharpie deserved was very nearly the loss he deserved. Not for the first time, he was the culprit penalised at the ruck in front of the posts that gave Wales the 12-9 lead. He has been a real penalty magnet for a long time, and I look forward to seeing Horwill back in the gold next year.

      I thought Wayne Barnes was ok. He ruled a forward pass to Mitchell early on which to my reckoning was a legitimate pass. Otherwise it was good to see some policing of the ruck area, especially sealing the ball off. This was a blight on all other NH games.

      • How many penalties did we gave away during the match? 14 i believe and if memory serves me correct Sharpie was the culprit for one of those. Harsh enough to single him out – especially as he has been one of our best of not our best player over the past year.

        Without him and his leadership we would have lost many more tests this year.

  • Zuriel

    I have faith for the Lions Tour! Just like every year we know we have the depth and talent. Just that mojo x-factor is missing to glue everything together! Good effort guys, keep working hard and we’ll see the magic come back soon!

    • Luke_Baird

      The only starting XV player we’re missing is Horwill, O’Connor and perhaps Cooper. They’re not going to make a difference with a lack of structure like we’ve been seeing, and a reliance on playing what’s in front of you.

      • Ads

        yeah that Genia bloke does nothing. We dont miss him at all with the great service we have been getting at 9….Agree with you though we need structure and Deans should go. I have no faith for the Lions more around the coaching as opposed to players. We have the players, but they need the structure. I also think we need a settled, competent, 80 min captain. I dunno who this should be.

        • Luke_Baird

          Sorry, forgot about Genia.

  • Scott the Aussie

    Lions will be looking like favourites if any of the England boys who thrashed NZ (yes it was a thrashing) get in the team and play like that. As for us, it was a dire game and though I was pleased we won with a try from the end of the earth, the whole thing was hollow.

    • Brumby Runner

      What effect would the virus that hit the majority of AB players have on the result?

      • bill

        a handy excuse. Because surely it can’t happen by legitimate means, there has to be a reason, it’s right there in the policy manual of the allblacks, there’s always a reason.

        sadly we have a pr manual, not a rugby manual.

      • TDB

        I’m yet to see anyone stand by this claim but I think it genuinely knocked them around. Dan Carter was missing kicks!

        I really hope Ashton breaks his neck swan diving, so I may be biased.

  • bill

    Wales have some excellent players but, all in all, they were fortunate to be be that close and that’s stretching the bounds of politeness.

    • Brumby Runner

      Wales might have seen us off in this game but for their continual kicking the ball back to the Wallabies late in the game. Their kicking was worse than ours.

  • J T

    This teams is not going to beat the Lions. we are i desperate need of a change of coaching staff. Still disjointed, still unstructured, still making stupid decisions. Anyone else remember a few years back when we used to put 50 points on teams that weren’t in the top 5 or 6? These days we either get thrashed or we squeak home. Really not inspiring stuff.

  • skin of the teeth

    kicking????
    and bloody hell Phipps!!!

    • Bobas

      Other than Phipps kicks and a poor pass to Barnes at the start of the 2nd half, I thought he had a good game.

      • Ooaahh

        Your joking right? What did he do well?

        • bill

          his job.

  • DameEdnasPossum

    It’s a win – but it was dire to watch. I’m glad they finally recalled that you need to have the ball in hand to score a try – just like we used to regularly.

    If that’s the way the WBs play against the Lions, win or lose, it’s going to be a painful sight.

    Our scoreboard record on this tour was apalling. Still winning games we don’t rightfully deserve to win. The administrators should not breathe a sigh of relief, the last play of the ball does not undo the 80 mins of uninspired, unskilled rugby that went before it.

    Could be worse though i guess…could’ve been following Red…or Black!

  • BloodRed

    Least deserving win I’ve ever seen. We are shit. Right now I’d rather be Welsh than Australian, at least they know how to give it a crack. Do us a favour Dingo, fuck off, just fuck off.

    • Martin

      Apparently you’d also rather be booing Sharpe at the end of his final test.

      • Mr T

        Well that logic is impeccable. BloodRed says the Wallabies didn’t deserve to win therefore he wants to boo Nathan Sharpe. QED

    • bill

      Nah, the italian game was less deserving. This one, I thought we were better, and on balance played better.

      Sharpie is the first one to say team first. How is Deans better for the team. He’s slaughtered us the last two years.

  • Chunderstruck

    Seeing Deans giving high-5s at the end of the game, not sure if its ironic or just depressing

    • bill

      such is life as a wallaby fan.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    With minutes to go and looking done for, I asked myself ‘is it better to lose, face the music and bring in change or hope for a win and keep this absolute crap going’? We won, so I guess things won’t change.

    But boy oh boy, are we slow learners or what? Every time I see Barnesy with the ball I have a mental wager about if he’s going to aimlessly boot it away or not. Mind you, he wasn’t exactly alone in that department either. It’s like an epidemic that’s taken hold of us. There appears to be this lazy BS option that so many Wallabies (and the list is growing), believe that kicking will suddenly do it for us.

    Then finally when Barnes decides not to kick, we are a threat. Kurtley out wide and well away from the 10 spot (where he should never be anyway) and good things start to happen. You have to ask yourself ‘what took so long’?

    Look if we are going to insist on kicking & kicking & kicking (and it seems we are addicted), then for God’s sake please get a decent kicking coach. Watching us is agony.

    • Dave

      I think you hit the nail on the head in one respect: It isn’t kicking that’s the problem per se, it’s the way we kick and when we do it. And the amount we kick surely has something do do with our inability to get behind the defence any other way.

      There’s a lot to work on – as always.

      • Brumby Runner

        It’s not always the case that a kick is put in because the line can’t be broken. I cite the kick by AAC after a line break down the left and a good run by him. The kick simply gave the ball to the opposition when in a good attacking position. FFS why kick? Why not take the tackle and recycle while the team is on the front foot and there is almost no structure left in the defence. In a similar situation you would expect the ABs to spin the ball wide to the other side and mostly outflank the defence going backwards. But the Wallabies kick! There may have been other examples in this game, in fact I’m sure there were, but I would have to relook at the video, which isn’t something I’m keen to do.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Brumby – They showed that AAC kick quite a few times and for the life of me I could not work out what he was attempting. IMHO breaks like that are like diamonds and we must make more of them than we are managing.

          At the risk of sounding as if I was on Noah’s Arc, in my day (and I played wing many moons ago) in such a position you tried to keep the ball alive and mount another attack. I was expected to link-up or centre kick the pill and allow our forwards or a fast runner to collect it. Not a high return on
          investment but paid way better than putting it into touch.

          I’ll admit it was eons ago and only at Kentwell Cup level, but doing what AAC did would almost certainly get me the evil stare from the ‘no necks’ who had worked their arses off, just to see me hand it back.

        • Dave

          True it’s not always the case but it seems to me the default mindset more often than not is to kick after a few phases of not being able to break the line. I still contend kicking is fine but the kicks have to be accurate to be effective. The example you cite is case in point. You are probably right, taking the tackle and recycling the ball would have been the better option (although he probably would have been tackled into touch), but had that kick been accurate it would have put a disjointed defence under even more pressure. AAC performed a similar kick against France in 2010 to put Drew Mitchell away if I’m not mistaken. Where has this ability gone? We now seem incapable of creating pressure from putting boot to ball. Our low percentage kicks are resulting in turnovers due to poor execution. Over the course of the season our skill level in this area hasn’t become so significantly better to still resort to this tactic when it clearly isn’t working. Learn how and when to kick FFS.

  • galumay

    Well a win is a win i guess, we have really done very well this year considering the horrific injury toll. Just 3 players last night that played in the first test against Wales earlier in the year! Two sides playing ugly rugby, the real losers were the spectators.

    No doubt the haters will find a reason for another win to be a reason to get rid of the coach, they seem to manage to argue for that, win lose or draw.

    Its interesting to consider how well we beat England – and then how well they beat the ABs

    • Brumby Runner

      Sick ABs. Probably doesn’t mean anything for England.

  • Queenslander

    After 40 odd years supporting the Wallabies I can’t watch this crap anymore. Bring on the S15. I won’t buy a ticket and won’t be getting up in the middle of the night to watch the utter shit that is being dished up as entertainment. I cannot believe that kicking the ball away time after time is a supported strategy of Deans and now all we see is scraping in over the line week in week out against sub standard opposition we should be rogering.

    Deans must have been kissed on the dick by a fairy to keep these shit wins coming at critical times that give weight to him remaining in the top job. By god I have never seen such incompetency in coaching.

    The ARU are completely deluded if they think this has been a good year, for mine we are getting worse.

    • ‘airy

      If Aussie Bob were to be booted (wouldn’t that be fitting) then who would we go with? Surely not our most successful Super coach because he’d expect to bring his best players with him.

    • Johnny-boy

      I’d be in the same boat Q. Been a rugby tragic for 45 years but I just can’t take it anymore. Deans has coached the life out of the Wallabies. Bring on Super XV alright. The Reds have really powerful motivation simmering for 2013.

    • J T

      Yep – spot on. We are no chance against the Lions and I’m relieved that I’m not the only one who can see this. The truth is that it doesn’t matter who replaces Deans – we are a shell of a team at the moment so any change, even for the sake of change should be looked into. I’ve honestly never seen the Wallabies game in tatters like this. If Robbie isn’t a Kiwi plant to destroy our game then he should be because it would be the most successful Rugby initiative the Kiwis have ever undertaken.

      • Johnny-boy

        If the Lions are coached by Gatland, another kiwi coaching the life out of a national team, it should be a breeze

      • Brumby Runner

        I disagree. I believe we have the makings of a top side that will line up against the Lions. I am anticipating the return of Horwill, Genia, O’Connor and maybe Cooper to play alongside Pocock to strengthen the team that has played most of this year. We need some others to emerge in the Nos 3, 8, 10, 12 and 13 positions to complete the story. Come on down Dan Palmer, Fotu Auelua, Christian Lealiifano, JO’C and Honey Badger @ 13. I think even with Deans as coach, which inevitably he will be, the Wallabies will be competitive but not inspiring. With Link they will win the series with comfort.

  • Robson

    After watching the Brits and the ABs score six tries between them, this game was a bore fest of the first order. Fortunately I got an early call out so I had to leave it before it finished. We may not like the idea of the Brits actually winning a test match against a Southern Hemisphere side (or winning anything), but they showed us this morning how the ABs can be beaten. Play with pace, accuracy (especially in the kicking dept) and ferocity at the breakdown and on the tackle. Put this together with some genuine penetration in the backline and you’ve got a winning formula. I’m only remarking on this because Deans is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks the Wallabies will ever foot it with the ABs playing the way they have played under him.

    • Queenslander

      And I remember a couple of years ago the Poms flogged us in the Old Dart by playing the exact same rugby. They ran it from everywhere and kept the ball in hand. At the time I thought WoW this Eng side has got some go about them but unfortunately for them they could not fight their DNA and returned to the penalty goal side we loathe so well.

  • Pomsare s’posed2Bwhingers

    We win ugly and the complaints are as regular as clockwork. A win is a win and not to be taken lightly. How arrogant we have become! Teams win with what they’ve got, excuses don’t run up the scoreboard.

    • bill

      We complain because we want to win, and win well, not by default. The fans want excellence, not halfarsed middlemanagement self help platitudes. We want the wallabies to play to the best of their ability, not to some self proscribed limit.

  • bill

    Palu’s non shoulder charge? One of the weak points of rugby. Anybody who’s laid a tackle front on realises how crap this ruling is. If it is attacking the head a la the aussie rules hip and shoulder, it’s a dog act, but this, it’s so easy to look bad, still be fair and you really aren’t trying to play foul or actually do harm anyone.

    I’ve played against guys who were sent off who made perfectly fair tackles and simply had the misfortune to tackle someone smaller than them.

    • craigB

      Agreed. Personally I tout the fact he copped a ‘stinger’ in the shoulder was the reason he couldn’t get his arms around. Having has one myself I know that you lose all use of your arm for that split second.

    • Timbo

      reminds me of this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QroApDIBeGc

      I think Palu needs to go lower. Probably a throwback from his league days tackling high but you can see the power he has. Just needs to control it more

      • armatt

        This is exactly what I was thinking when I watched, Timbo

  • kiwi fan

    Is it just me or are most teams just struggling to take control of a match.. allblacks have been great until The england game but still had hiccups in the brizzy test.. But this game aus vs wales really was a game where both sides didnt take the bull by the horns. they had opportunities and screwed them up.. or put up aimless kicks with no real point its like no team really really wanted to win you know.. until the end obviously where wallabies had to throw caution to the wind.. but actually it wasnt that risky at all they threw the ball wide with a couple of good passes and bang look what happened try time.. why not do that the whole game?

  • redbull

    Glad I missed it. The ENG v NZL was being televised and the local pay-TV wisely decided to put the AUS v WAL on in the early hours after everyone went home. The soap dodgers were in outstanding form. The cheats came back well but then the poms skipped away. It was hard cheering for england, but I justify it as cheering for rugby

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@DoubleTakeQLD

Old rugby fan but infant journalist. Doing analysis and other video-related work for all sorts, from individual players and low-level club teams, to major school teams, significant club competitions, and elite teams and comps, including the NRC, the Queensland Reds and the Wallabies. On Twitter @DoubleTakeQLD or find me at www.doubletakeproductions.com.au

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