Wallabies start life under Schmidt with gritty Wales victory in Sydney

Sat, Jul 6, 2024, 11:45 AM
by Lachlan Grey and Nathan Williamson

The Wallabies have celebrated Joe Schmidt's first game in charge with a 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney.

It was a physical battle dominated by a kicking duel between the two sides as the Wallabies struck first through Taniela Tupou for a 13-3 lead.

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Wales kicked their way into the game and a penalty try had the scores level just after the break.

In the end, some magic from Tom Wright decided the game, with the fullback's brilliant individual try proving the difference in front of 35,945.

"A win is really important and it always is because that's what you get judged on externally but internally, I think some of those moments that we did really well to earn that one, that'll be the focus for us this week building into Melbourne," Schmidt said.

"We have a few things that are a little different from how teams have played in Super Rugby so the adjustment time for that to become second nature is inevitably and going to take time.

"Hopefully, it can take 'till Tuesday and we can be really good at it...we'll leave that at the moment and focus on what's in front of us."

It was a tense encounter as both sides opted to take early penalties, with the Australians starting strong under Joe Schmidt.

A break to Andrew Kellaway early signalled their intentions as the hosts looked to apply pressure on the ill-disciplined Welsh.

It eventually paid off in the 20th minute with strong running from the forwards delivering the opening try to Taniela Tupou for a 13-3 lead. In a case of double jeopardy for the Welsh, prop Gareth Thomas was sent for ten after a string of penalties.

The numbers would be levelled shortly afterwards when Wales was awarded a penalty try for a collapsed maul, flanker Fraser McReight the man pinged for bringing it down on the line.

With both teams down to 14, it became a midfield battle as the Wallabies scrum gained ascendency, countered by the poised kicking game of Wales.

The Wallabies ended the half with a three-point lead, but Wales went straight back on the attack as they kicked their way inside the Wallabies’ 22.

Ben Thomas levelled the scores via penalty from just over the 22 but the dropped kick-off presented the opportunity for the hosts to strike through Filipo Daugunu.

Daugunu swung from wing to wing and sprinted through a gap, using his momentum to narrowly slide over the line for the 18-13 lead.

Wales fought hard for the response, denied twice as a desperate ankle tap from Jake Gordon stopped a promising Aaron Wainwright break before a Welsh rolling maul try was brought back for obstruction.

The Wallabies had their own chances, with a cross-field kick to Andrew Kellaway just out of reach but the kicking of Wales continued to present opportunities for Thomas to nail penalties to reduce the margin to two with 15 minutes to go.

Up stepped Tom Wright, who produced some magic from his own half, breaking the line and the ankles of the Welsh cover defence for the nine-point lead.

From here, the Welsh peppered the Wallabies line, only to be met by a gold wall.

Debutants Isaac Kailea and Charlie Cale came up with big moments to halt momentum, with Fraser McReight lethal over the breakdown.

It allowed them to close out the game and secure the win to start Joe Schmidt’s tenure with a win.

Wallabies 25 (Tries: Tupou, Daugunu, Wright; Cons: Lolesio, Lynagh; Pens: Lolesio 2) def Wales 16 (Penalty Try, Pens: Thomas 3)


Wallabies (15-1): Tom Wright, Andrew Kellaway, Josh Flook, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, Noah Lolesio, Jake Gordon, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright (c), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Jeremy Williams, Taniela Tupou, Matt Faessler, James Slipper

Replacements: Billy Pollard, Isaac Kailea, Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Blyth, Charlie Cale, Tate McDermott, Tom Lyngah, Dylan Pietsch

Wales (15-1): Liam Williams, Josh Hathaway, Owen Watkin, Mason Grady, Rio Dyer, Ben Thomas, Ellis Bevan, Aaron Wainwright, Tommy Reffell, Taine Plumtree, Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Archie Griffin, Dewi Lake (c), Gareth Thomas

Replacements: Evan Lloyd, Kemsley Mathias, Harri O'Connor, Cory Hill, James Botham, Kieran Hardy, Sam Costelow, Nick Tompkins

Referee: Pierre Brousset

Assistant Referees: Ben O'Keeffe and James Doleman

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