Wales’ woes continue with Wallabies defeat

Sports

Australia coach Joe Schmidt kicked off his tenure in charge with a 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney on Saturday, their first win over a tier one nation since they beat the Welsh in Cardiff in late 2022.

Tries from prop Taniela Tupou, Filipo Daugunu and Tom Wright gave the Wallabies the edge in a scrappy contest between the world’s ninth and 10th-ranked teams and condemned Wales to an eighth straight loss.

Wales earned a penalty try in the first half and flyhalf Ben Thomas kicked three penalties but they rarely offered anything by way of a backline threat as the Wallabies gained a measure of revenge for their 40-6 drubbing at last year’s World Cup.

“A win is really important because of the confidence you get from it,” Schmidt said.

“We stuck at it. There were some nice… moments and some work-ons as well. There’s a real ‘sleeves up’ mentality in the group and I’m really enjoying it.”

A rain shower swept over the stadium during the playing of the national anthems and the early play was cagey with Wallabies fly-half Noah Lolesio and Thomas exchanging penalties.

Lolesio added another three-pointer in the 15th minute and Australia went further ahead when prop Tupou barged his way over the line from close range for the first try of the game six minutes later.

Wales prop Gareth Thomas was sin-binned for an infraction during the lead-up to the try but Australia had the extra man for only four minutes.

The visitors rolled a maul towards the try line from an attacking lineout and Fraser McReight was adjudged to have collapsed it, the referee pointing to the posts for a penalty try before showing the yellow card to the Wallabies openside.

The rest of the half was scoreless and it was not until six minutes into the second half that Thomas’s second penalty levelled up the scores at 13-13.

Australia had shown some invention in the backline and got a reward in the 52nd minute when Daugunu ran from his left wing over to the right and cut through the defence before allowing the greasy surface to take him over the try line.

Wales thought they had levelled up the scores six minutes later but the TMO spotted an obstruction as another rolling maul headed towards the try line.

Thomas cut the deficit to two points with his third penalty after 66 minutes but Wallabies fullback Wright soon produced a rare moment of quality by running 60 metres to score Australia’s third try, bringing the crowd of 35,945 to their feet.

Tom Lynagh, the son of Wallabies great Michael, had come on to make his debut in place of Lolesio and converted the try to earn his first test points and extend the lead to nine points with 10 minutes remaining.

Wales kept battering away — number eight Aaron Wainwright’s effort in his 50th test was immense — but were unable to breach the Australia defensive line.

They were, though, more competitive than in their 41-13 loss to world champions South Africa at Twickenham two weeks ago and will head down to Melbourne for next week’s second test feeling they have a chance of ending their losing streak.

“It was a bit frustrating,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said.

“We created some chances — I’d like some clarity on that disallowed try — but we’ve hurt ourselves as well.”

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