Wales' Hallam Amos (R) dives for the line to score a late try during the a Test match against Australia at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on November 11, 2017
Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Australia recorded their 13th straight victory over Wales on Saturday, sealing a 29-21 success in an enthralling contest at Principality Stadium.
Tatafu Polota-Nau, Adam Coleman, captain Michael Hooper and full-back Kurtley Beale crossed for the Wallabies with fly-half Bernard Foley kicking three conversions and Reece Hodge a long-distance penalty.
Wales’ tries came courtesy of Scarlets winger Steffan Evans and replacement Dragons paceman Hallam Amos, while Leigh Halfpenny kicked 11 points.
“We just hung in there today,” Australia coach Michael Cheika told the BBC. “Wales played really well and were on the front foot from the first minute. We defended really well under difficult circumstances.
“The guys were up for it, they stopped a lot of short-range efforts from Wales but our winning mentality helped us hang in there.”
Wales’ Warren Gatland added: “As the game went on we got stronger and if Kurtley Beale had not scored that freakish try, there was a good chance we could have gone on and won the game.
“Against a side of that quality you have to be more clinical. We are disappointed with the result but we tend to get stronger as a team as we go on.”
To their credit Wales had the crowd on their feet for the majority of the game with their decision to implement a more expansive style of rugby resulting in an entertaining spectacle.
But the usual off-shoot of high risk rugby is more errors, with Gatland’s men guilty of numerous handling errors.
They also struggled to effectively stop Australia’s ball carriers, the Wallabies able to cross the gain line far too easily and dominate the breakdown.
Wales made a strong start when Halfpenny slotted a penalty from 30 metres after the Wallabies were deemed to be offside.
But the home side’s opening points forced the visitors into action, Polota-Nau crossing for their first try. The Leicester-bound hooker found himself at the bottom of a powerful Australian driving line-out which the home side were unable to stop.
Wales hit straight back when Scarlets winger Evans crossed for his third try in as many Tests.
The score came after his regional team-mate Gareth Davies made a sniping break from his own half following a scrappy line-out.
The ball was then recycled going through the hands of Dan Biggar, Owen Williams and Jonathan Davies before Halfpenny put Evans over in the corner.
It didn’t take long for Chieka’s side to hit back when giant lock Coleman crossed from short range. The build-up to the try saw Foley put in a neat cross-kick which was well covered by Halfpenny, but the ball was recycled and Will Genia was able to put the second row over.
Hodge and Halfpenny exchanged penalties, before Australian captain Hooper crossed for a simple try on the stroke of half time meaning Cheika’s men turned around 22-13 up.
Wales started the second half strongly, keeping hold of the ball far more effectively than in the first period. Their pressure was rewarded with three points from the boot of Halfpenny as he cut the deficit to just six points.
Wales continued to press with pocket dynamo Evans causing mayhem in the Australian ranks with his pace and electric footwork.
But again Wales’ ambition was to be their undoing when full-back Beale ripped the ball from the hands of Evans to race in unopposed from 50 metres out to knock the stuffing out of the hosts.
Wales did have some reward for their pressure when Hooper was sent to the sin bin after he was judged to have entered a ruck from the side. With the flanker missing, the Welsh scrum was able to gain the upper hand shoving the Wallabies back at a rate of knots.
But despite that, Wales could not turn pressure into points with captain Alun Wyn Jones coming close when he knocked the ball forward over the try line.
The hosts did at least get a consolation try when Amos crossed in the left-hand corner following a perfectly weighted Jonathan Davies grubber, but it was all too little too late.