Deans tips titanic Welsh series battle
Relieved Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has predicted a brilliant three-match series which could go down to the wire after an enthralling 27-19 triumph over Wales on Saturday night.
Australia bounced back emphatically from their disastrous 9-6 upset loss to Scotland on Tuesday night in Newcastle by clicking into gear to unlock the strong Welsh defence at Suncorp Stadium.
But despite their three-tries-to-one triumph, to continue the tourists’ 43-year drought Down Under, the Wallabies only escaped after withstanding a spirited second-half comeback by the tourists.
Down 20-6 with half an hour to play, the Red Dragons fired and Australia’s defence tired as they hit back to close the gap to one point with 17 minutes left.
Wales could have hit the lead if not for five-eighth Rhys Priestland uncharacteristically bombing a certain try by dropping a high pass with a three-man overlap outside him, while they also fumbled at other crucial times.
“We just didn’t take those opportunities in the second half,” Welsh coach Rob Howley lamented.
“We probably left two or three tries out on the park to be honest.”
In the end, man of the match Will Genia sent centre Pat McCabe, running a brilliant angle, over for the match-clincher.
Deans admitted he was nervous when the ultra-fit Six Nations champions stormed back and expects them to keep coming in the second Test in Melbourne.
Wales must turnaround their poor record in Australia on Saturday night under the Etihad Stadium roof to keep the series alive but both teams know there is little between them.
“It’s do or die next week,” Deans said.
“It will be another dry ball so I imagine it will be edge of the seat stuff which will good.
“They (Wales) are a fit side, it’s going to be a great series, for sure.”
Deans praised under-pressure playmaker Berrick Barnes who produced a fine all-round game and showed good vision to help orchestrate his first win in eight matches.
But it was Genia who was the stand-out, highlighted by a solo 35m try after halftime where he split two tight-forwards and then stepped around fullback James Hook to score.
“The credit has to go to the guys up front; they won us quick ball,” the halfback said.
“The wingers worked off the edges … so I was lucky because the other guys just made my job so much easier.”
Wales have winger George North (deep cork) in some doubt for the second Test while centre Scott Williams suffered from a head clash.© AAP 2013