Wallabies take momentum from Wales sweep
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says his side can take momentum into August’s Rugby Championship after Saturday’s 20-19 victory over Wales at Allianz Stadium completed an important clean-sweep of the Six Nations champions.
After a horror 9-6 loss to Scotland to open the June Test period, Deans and the Wallabies were under the blow-torch against the Welsh.
Australia’s stop-start performance in perfect conditions on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd in Sydney left plenty to be desired, but for the second week in a row the Wallabies proved they’re capable of showing composure under pressure.
Five-eighth Berrick Barnes was man of the match for the second straight week, twice getting his side off the canvas in the third Test when it looked as though Wales would break their 43-year drought in Australia.
Players now go back to finish off the Super Rugby season, but Deans says the Wallabies have something to hold onto when they go into battle against the All Blacks on August 18.
“There’s no doubt we’ll take something out of this, something of substance. To play against a side that’s as good as the Welsh and to actually experience a fair amount of adversity in each encounter but respond well to it, we’ll take forward with us,” said Deans.
“The leadership group’s done a great job, that’s been evident at the death in each instance, so that stuff comes forward.”
In last week’s second Test Barnes missed his attempt at a match-winning goal, and it was up to replacement Mike Harris to come on and clinch the game after the siren.
But this week Barnes started and finished the job for his side – booting five penalties.
The NSW playmaker threw the crucial pass for Rob Horne’s try in the 65th minute and after Leigh Halfpenny kicked Wales back into a 19-17 lead heading into the final 10 minutes, Barnes’ 76th minute penalty proved the difference.
“It was great to see Barnsey nail that one because just like last week it would have been a tough pill to swallow because he played very well,” said Deans, who also praised Kurtley Beale in his return match as the Wallabies stretched their unbeaten run against Wales to seven matches.
Beale made uncharacteristic errors throughout the match which put his side under pressure, but Deans said there were enough good signs in his return from a shoulder injury.
“He does that stuff others can’t do and with a bit more time in the saddle he’ll start finishing some of those things,” said Deans.
A rugby record crowd at Allianz Stadium of 42,889 deserved a flowing game, but referee Craig Joubert blew 24 penalties.
Deans described the Wallabies as “impatient” and “dysfunctional” at the set-piece, as they lost line-outs cheaply and were thoroughly outplayed at the scrum.
Wales went up 16-12 after No.8 Ryan Jones scored with 20 minutes left, and Horne’s reply wasn’t without controversy.
The outside centre almost lost the ball in Jonathan Davies last-ditch tackle, but the TMO ruled he had control.
Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley lost captain Sam Warburton to concussion in the first half, and lamented another close loss.
“Can we play them next week please?,” Howley said.
“Coming into this game everyone questioned how our mentality would be and I thought the group was outstanding.”© AAP 2013
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