Wallabies victory ‘stolen’ out of the arms of defeat against Wales

Wallabies victory 'stolen' out of the arms of defeat against Wales

In a memorable revival, this weekend’s Wallabies victory was one ‘stripped out of the arms of defeat’ against Wales.

Stolen because the Welsh side had stretched out to a 20-13 lead after a pair of Australian players were sanctioned with yellow cards. Yet from that poor position, the Wallabies would then add 26 unanswered points, as they took advantage of yellow cards for Wales captain Justin Tipuric and Ryan Elias. That revitalized the visitors, and will have heaped even more pressure on the position of Wayne Pivac.

His position is being undermined with each loss – even their win over Argentina on November 12 did little to help his side’s confidence. Down, this Wallabies victory puts another boot in and will make it almost unbearable for the New Zealand-born coach. Yet he is not the one playing on the pitch, and the playing group has to assume responsibility for their actions in letting in so many points in front of a large Principality Stadium crowd.

But still, this was an unusually high-scoring game. Defence seemed to be secondary, as 14 or even 13 players tried to defend their own line. And while the Wallabies victory saw a high number of points earned, they still conceded 34 points themselves, so coach Dave Rennie will feel no better than he did as he tried to gather 23 healthy players. With his own role also under pressure before the important 2023 International schedule, a Wallabies victory is some good news over a disappointing calendar.

Wales 34 – Tries: Morgan (2), Faletau, Dyer; Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (4); Penalties: Anscombe (2)

Australia 37 – Tries: Fainga’a, Nawaqanitawase (2), Penalty try, Lonergan; Cons: Ben Donaldson, Noah Lolesio (2); Pens: Donaldson (2)

Wallabies victory out of the arms of defeat against Wales

Stolen is a way of describing how one team seemed to expect a win, while another took heart from a lowering of pressure, to engineer a win against the odds. This Wallabies victory was exactly that. They realized a numerical advantage, and then used their talent and an amount of luck to ‘turn the tables’. And occurring late in the second stanza, it occurred with Wales [seemingly] unable to make the substitutions that might halt the flood of points.

Not helped by the match-ending injuries to both Gareth Anscombe and Tomos Williams, yet before Anscombe left the field, his side had assumed a formidable position. They seemed to be holding the visitors down until a swing in fortune seemed to boost the Australian team’s courage. A try to Mark Nawaqanitawase was the start of the revival from the Wallabies.

Looking in from the outside, Wales’ prolonged Autumn calendar began to take effect. Two critical substitutions removed over 250 test caps; in Alun Wyn-Jones and Toby Faletau. The latter had scored a try, and it was a combination of poor options and even worse defence that contributed to this loss. The Australians just simply saw their chance, and took it. Wales might do the same, yet the team has a lack of zeal that the Six Nations team of 2021 seemed to have. This is why Georgia was able to hold them down before claiming their first win over Wales last weekend.

It is also the reason that teams enter the coliseum in Cardiff, and hold less fear than if it were Twickenham, Eden Park, or Newlands. The aura has gone. But in a way, the side holds the key to every match result. By their own hand, a Wallabies victory can result or a win is felt by their supporters. On this day, they contrived to allow defeat all by themselves. And full credit to Australia. It takes a lot on the International stage to hold your nerve. So Rennie will need to congratulate the men he charged with completing their 2022 task list. Wallabies victory achieved. Job well done.

How it leaves Wales now, is a side ‘lost for direction’. A win over Argentina could not change their form. It is still one where the team itself influences whether they leave Cardiff smiling, or in this case feeling dejected and with a head coach who might very well be directed to take the harsh decision about his own tenure with the Welsh side.

Accentuate the positives from loss to Australia

Wales must still accentuate what positives came from this loss though. Jac Morgan’s performance alone, was sensational. While not every supporters first pick, applause were well deserved for the 22-year old. And yes, he has many a good year still to develop into as good a player as Faletau or a Moriarty.

While being ‘stripped of the ball’ on this occasion is underlined by losses to Georgia and Italy at home, the away victory in South Africa must be held up as the ideal with which Wales must aspire to. For all the failures, recognising the successes must be balanced, otherwise it has been a year to (most certainly) improve on.

End of year rating:  C+


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