The Wallabies have put on a crisp attacking display to open their Spring Tour with a comfortable 32-8 victory in Cardiff and extend their winning streak over Wales to 12 games.
First-half tries to captain Stephen Moore and centres Tevita Kuridrani and Reece Hodge underlined Australia’s dominant opening 40 minutes, before man-of-the-match Bernard Foley capped a 12-point performance with a runaway second-half try and Dane Haylett-Petty chipped in with a late intercept.
It was a display of attacking rugby at Millennium Stadium which coach Michael Cheika insists of his players, and should embolden their hopes of a grand slam tour.
The win was, however, soured by the loss of flanker David Pocock to concussion at halftime.
Foley sparked Australia’s attack with subtle ballplay and line-running, and kicked three from six for a personal haul of 12 points.
Wales, who lost key outside centre Jonathan Davies to a hamstring injury hours before kickoff, looked disjointed from the outset and held on grimly in the first half as Australia enjoyed an enormous statistical dominance.
After 20 minutes, the Wallabies had enjoyed 95 per cent territory, 80 per cent of possession and had run the ball for 191 metres to Wales’ 12.
However, Australia had just the one try, to captain Moore off a rolling maul, to show for it with one of the wasted opportunities being Haylett-Petty spilling a Foley pass with a clear 10m run to the tryline in front of him.
That this dominant period included a sin-binning of Welsh No.10 Dan Biggar only exacerbated the sense that Australia had wasted their opportunities.
But by halftime, thanks to nine clean linebreaks, Australia had added long-range tries to Kuridrani and Hodge.
Hodge made two linebreaks and looked confident at inside centre, bursting onto an inside pass from Foley in the 26th minute, before playing a one-two with Israel Folau and backing up to score his first Test try.
Five minutes before the break, Kuridrani rammed home Australia’s advantage when he dummied his way through the Wales defence and carried two defenders over the line to cross out wide for a 20-3 halftime score.
It was predicted the presence of Pocock in the unfamiliar blindside flanker role would hinder Australia’s lineout, but that didn’t eventuate – with Australia winning all eight lineouts contested in the first half, largely thanks to the 208cm frame of Rory Arnold.
Australia continued to strangle Wales out of the game in the second half despite losing Pocock, who failed a concussion test at halftime.
The home side improved, but was caught off guard when a midfield turnover was quickly turned into a try as Foley scampered away following quick passes by locks Arnold and Adam Coleman.
The Cardiff crowd found their voice when centre Scott Williams regathered a grubber to score in the 62nd minute, but the home team was unable to engineer a comeback as Australia’s defence held firm.
Critical trysavers, first by Dane Haylett-Petty on a runaway Alex Cuthbert and then by replacement halfback Nick Frisby on Hallam Amos, ensured Australia’s winning streak would be extended – before Haylett-Petty sealed the win with a 60m intercept in the final minutes.
Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu joined the action with three minutes to go to become Australia’s 12th debutant this year.
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