A new look Wales team were once again defeated in an unlucky 13th loss in a row against the Wallabies on Saturday.
11 of those 13 defeats have been lost within 8 points and the players must be feeling a little unlucky by now! Alun Wyn – Jones was the only player in the team that played in the match that Wales won against Australia nearly a decade ago. We have a record of starting the season slowly. The last time Wales won their opening game in the autumn internationals was against Romania in November 2002, the month I was born!
On the other hand, there were many positives to take out of this defeat too. Many of Wales’ top players were out injured including Sam Warburton, Ross Moriarty, George North, Justin Tipuric and Samson Lee but we still gave Australia a run for their money. On the return of Warren Gatland from coaching the Lions, there were many new and young players in the team who played well; especially considering that this was their first cap for Wales.
Although not many of the created chances were executed perfectly, it was clear that Wales were starting to play a more expansive style of rugby and move on from the defence-based game that has haunted Wales in recent years. In my opinion, for an opening game and with so many of the players injured, Wales played well against an in-form Australian side.
Leigh Halfpenny was the first one to score and made it 3-0 to Wales. After 12 minutes, Australia scored a try from an unstoppable maul, five metres away from the try line. It was quite a disappointing beginning to the game, but, a few minutes later came a great line break from Jonathan Davies which was wasted because of a silly knock on. But it only took another 2 minutes until Gareth Davies made a line break from the line out. The ball was distributed to the left and Steffan Evans crossed for his 2nd Wales try on his 3rd Wales cap. Two more tries from Aaron Coleman and Hooper with another Wales penalty left the scores 13-22 at the halfway point.
Wales dominated the territory and possession in the second half but they couldn’t dominate the score. There were a few well-worked chances that were wasted but at least chances were being made. In the 60th minute, Kurtley Beale scored a try that sank all of the hearts in the stadium. The touchdown was followed by a roaring and frustrating: “Boo” from the fans. What was more frustrating was that Kurtley Beale had knocked it on and it shouldn’t have been a try. That moment changed the game because, before that, Wales were getting ever closer to a second try that would have given them the lead. Hallam Amos scored a consolation try in the left corner with an incredible finish to end the game. The scores finished 21-29 in favour of Australia.
This game was the start of the journey to take Wales on the road to the next Rugby World Cup in Japan, and it was a positive start.
It is going to be a tough Series and Wales will play Georgia next Saturday. Wales will have to score tries in that game but it won’t be easy against a country that is passionate about its rugby and is knocking on the door of the 6 Nations.