Welsh players attempt to bring down Australia's Kurtley
Beale. REUTERS/Darren Staples
A last-gasp try to Kurtley Beale gave Australia a
thrilling 14-12 victory over Wales which condemned the Welsh to
a seventh successive defeat and left them facing a daunting
World Cup challenge.
Flyhalf Beale capped a final throw of the dice by the
Wallabies, diving over in the corner with 20 seconds of time
left under a closed roof at the Millennium stadium.
The deflated Welsh, awaiting the conversion and then final
whistle while the prone Leigh Halfpenny received lengthy
treatment, sunk to their knees in despair.
It was the perfect send off for Australia captain Nathan
Sharpe in the second rower's 116th and final test. Sharpe,
handed the honour of trying - and failing - to convert
Beale's try, was carried from the field on the shoulders of
two team mates.
Needing a draw or win to stay in the world's top eight after
a miserable run of form, Wales now find themselves cast into
the third band of seeds for Monday's 2015 World Cup pool
draw, with Argentina leapfrogging them into the second tier.
Beale also kicked three penalties for the Australians, who
return home after tour wins over Wales, Italy and England,
with their only blemish a heavy opening defeat by France.
Halfpenny landed four penalties for Wales.
Despite losing to the Wallabies for the sixth time in 13
months, Wales coach Warren Gatland said the two sides were
"Pretty gutted," said the New Zealander, who will lock horns
again with opposite number Robbie Deans in the southern
hemisphere summer when he takes the British and Irish Lions
"Apart from the last minute I thought we played some
outstanding rugby today, it was a close tough tight test
match. We put ourselves in a position where we should have
The Welsh, forced to name another patched-up side after a
succession of injuries in home defeats to Argentina, Samoa
and New Zealand, did not lack for ambition with Gatland's men
showing the determination to continue the momentum from a
bright second-half showing against the All Blacks last
weekend, despite a 33-10 defeat.
They were initially on the backfoot as the Wallabies twice
wasted promising early openings. Adam Ashley-Cooper was
penalised for a forward pass having broken through the first
line before some resilient Welsh defending forced a turnover
with the opponents camped on their tryline.
Pushed back, Wales countered with a scintillating break from
wing Alex Cuthbert who took an attack that started from
behind his own line all the way to Australia's 22 before
being forced into touch.
Halfpenny's pace then set up another chance, bursting deep
into Australia's half before his kick forward set up a race
to the line. Fortunately for the Wallabies, Wycliff Palu just
got his hand down first despite the attentions of Sam
Warburton and Toby Faletau.
Halfpenny's penalties put Wales ahead 12-9 up after an hour,
but, with the Wallabies seemingly running out of gas and
ideas, they conjured one final piece of magic from a
gruelling season as Beale burst clear from a Dave Dennis pass
to break Welsh hearts.
Australia coach Deans said his side had showed the character
that summed up their season.
"It was a great game, as all of our encounters have been this
year," he said.
"It's a good habit the boys are developing. It was a fast and
physical game...just to be in the game at the end was credit
to them (his players)."