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Jamie Roberts’ exclusive guide to Wales’ Rugby World Cup squad: ‘He reminds me of Olivier Magne in his prime’
Wales put one foot in the World Cup quarter-finals and announced themselves as major title contenders after beating Australia 29-25 at Tokyo Stadium.
The Six Nations champions took charge of Pool D with a second successive win that could lead to a last-eight clash against France or Argentina.
Australia, though, might be hurtling towards a knockout tie with England, who are coached by former Wallabies boss Eddie Jones, despite staging a spectacular second-half fightback.
Wales looked home and dry when they led 26-8 through tries by centre Hadleigh Parkes and scrum-half Gareth Davies.
Fly-halves Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell kicked 19 points between them – Patchell contributed 14 after replacing Biggar, who went off for a head injury assessment – but Australia got it back to one point at 26-25.
Wing Adam Ashley-Cooper, full-back Dane Haylett-Petty and captain Michael Hooper claimed touchdowns, with Bernard Foley kicking a penalty and Matt Toomua booting seven points.
But Wales held out, helped out by Patchell’s 72-minute strike, to beat Australia for only a second time in the last 15 Tests following a scintillating contest.
Alun Wyn Jones became Wales’ most-capped player as he led his country out, making his 130th appearance to break the record he previously shared with prop Gethin Jenkins.
Australia were without suspended wing Reece Hodge – replaced by Ashley-Cooper – while half-backs Foley and Will Genia were also called up by head coach Michael Cheika.
Wales made a dream start and were ahead after just 36 seconds when the Welsh pack secured quality possession inside Australia’s 22 and Biggar dropped a goal.
Australia were rocked by the ferocity of Wales’ start, and Biggar went close to doubling the lead but drifted a touchline penalty attempt wide.
Wales were outstanding with ball in hand, looking to involve wings George North and Josh Adams at regular opportunities.
Australia’s defence came under considerable pressure, and Wales increased their lead through a 13th-minute try.
Biggar was the architect, kicking to the wing, and centre Parkes climbed above Wallabies wing Marika Koroibete, before spinning and touching down.
Biggar’s successful touchline conversion made it 10-0, and Hooper was then warned by referee Romain Poite for a challenge on the Wales number 10.
Australia opened their account with a 21st-minute try by Ashley-Cooper after Foley’s kick found space, cutting their deficit by five points.
Centre Samu Kerevi began to cause problems for the Welsh defence with his powerful running, and Wales then lost Biggar for a head injury assessment, with Patchell replacing him.
Foley booted a penalty shortly afterwards, and Wales’ lead had been reduced to 10-8 after 30 minutes.
Wales needed to regroup, and a Patchell penalty seven minutes before half-time restored the Six Nations champions’ five-point advantage, then he kicked another three-pointer from almost 50 metres.
And it then got even better for Wales when scrum-half Davies intercepted a Wallabies pass on halfway and sprinted clear to score their second try. Patchell’s conversion put Wales 15 points in front, ending an opening 40 minutes they had dominated.
Biggar did not rejoin the action, but Patchell had acquitted himself impressively at the hub of a controlling Wales performance. And he underlined it following another spell of Wales pressure by landing a drop-goal that meant Wales had an 18-point lead.
But Australia then hit back following a flowing long-range move which ended with Haylett-Petty crossing for a try that Toomua converted. The touchdown gave Australia a new lease of life, sensing that one more try would put them well and truly back in the contest.
Wales knew it, too, but Wallabies pressure was mounting, and three close-range driven line-outs saw Australia continue to turn the screw.
And Wales could not hold out, with Hooper claiming a touchdown following relentless pressure, and Toomua’s conversion meant Australia trailed 26-22 with 18 minutes left.
Toomua and Patchell then exchanged kicks, but Wales held out and claimed arguably the finest victory of head coach Warren Gatland’s long reign.
Man of the Match performance from intercept-happy Davies
Will Fiji upset the Welsh apple cart?
Fiji stand as Wales’ final significant hurdle in Pool D following their win over Australia today. But, having lost both of their opening games to Australia and then by Uruguay in a shock result, don’t discount an angry Fijian side looking for revenge, potentially challenging Warren Gatland’s Wales.
Jones: “We were a bit tentative in the second half”
Contrasting emotions in Tokyo
Hooper: “We had the moment, just gave away too many in the first half”
Hear from Wallaby captain Michael Hooper after the whistle
Full time: Australia 25 Wales 29
In the end Australia’s second-half comeback proved too little and too late, with Wales’ drop goal-happy, turnover-winning game plan guiding them to a vital Pool D victory.
Assuming they do indeed go on to beat Uruguay and avoid the banana skin of a fixture that is the Flying Fijians, the Welsh will top their pool and play the second best team in England’s pool. At current, that could be any one of England, France or Argentina with plenty of action to come.
In the end, a shap intercept try from scrum-half Gareth Davies (above) and drop goals from both starting fly-half Dan Biggar and substitute Rhys Patchell (replacing Biggar following a first-half HIA) proved key in repelling the Wallabies’ comeback.
81 min: It’s all over! Australia 25 Wales 29
Wales send the ball out after the gong goes and they’ve beaten their biggest pool rivals!
80 min: Turnover! Australia 25 Wales 29
Wales turn the ball over and have ten seconds to run down on the clock!
79 min: Australia on the attack Australia 25 Wales 29
Patchell clears but can’t make touch! Australia and within Wales’ half and will have to score a try here to get the win.
79 min: Penalty! Australia 25 Wales 29
Australia force the scrum penalty out of the Welsh and they kick for touch again, but Toomua doesn’t make it! It’s kept in touch by Tomos Williams and Wales kick the ball deep into the Welsh half.
Australia play the percentages and send the ball just inside the Welsh half for an opposition lineout. Wales secure it, but it’s messy.
74 min: Promising position for Wales Australia 25 Wales 29
Wales have a set-piece opportunity just in front of the Wallaby 22 to the left of the posts. This could be the killing blow…
74 min: Forward pass Australia 25 Wales 29
Kurtley Beale has a chance to run from deep and finds Salakaia-Loto through a half gap. But the pass is brought back for being forward.
Kudos to recently-arrived Watkin, who afforded Wales the possession to kick to Beale with an excellent rip in the contact.
71 min: Wales threatening again Australia 25 Wales 29
Wales have a lineout close to the Australian line after the men in gold conceded a penalty halfway down the pitch.
Patchell’s crossfield-kick is dropped by North over the line!
But Australia conceded a penalty a the lineout and Patchell slots another 3 points from out left to take the lead back to 4.
Hadleigh Parkes has been replaced at inside centre for Wales by Owen Watkin. Gareth Davies has also been replaced at nine by Tomos Williams.
69 min: Subs Australia 25 Wales 26
Australia make another change, bringing off number eight Naisarani for Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. Naisarani has added serious threat for the Wallabies with ball in hand in this second half.
68 min: Scrum penalty Australia 25 Wales 26
The new Australian frontrow get the better of their Welsh counterparts and win the penalty.
It’s an easy kick for Toomua and the Wallabies trail by just a point with 12 minutes to go.
66 min: Subs Australia 22 Wales 26
Australia bring off hooker Tolu Latu and loosehead Scott Sio for Jordan Uelese and James Slipper.
Wales have also mad a change at hooker with Elliot Dee replacing Ken Owens.
65 min: Wallabies turn up the heat Australia 22 Wales 26
Australia pressure the Welsh and force a few bobbling balls that eventually run into touch for a lineout on the Welsh 22.
Wales concede a handling error this time and Australia get a scrum 30 metres out and in front of the posts.
63 min: Subs Australia 22 Wales 26
Wales bring on Aaron Shingler and Dillon Lewis for and Jake Ball and Tomas Francis at lock and tighthead.
Also, Australia have brought on 100 cap tighthead prop Sekope Kepu for Allan Alaalatoa.
62 min: Try! Australia 22 Wales 26
Captain Michael Hooper punches over from a metre out to finally get the score! Toomua lines up the kick and… yes, it’s good!
Wales’ lead has been cut to just four points! It’s all to play for in Tokyo!
60 min: Aussies keeping it tight Australia 15 Wales 26
Australia are keeping it tight here and almost get the score. Wales hold them up but have conceded another penalty. Toomua kicks to the same spot in the right corner again.
58 min: Cross-field goes too far Australia 15 Wales 26
Toomua’s cross-field kick goes just too far for Haylett-Petty on the right touchline, but he was playing with advantage.
The Wallabies go for another lineout on the left touchline, 6 metres out.
56 min: Australian scrum Australia 15 Wales 26
Australia show some promise with half breaks through O’Connor and Toomua, the latter of which has really stepped up the Aussie attack.
Wales concede the penalty at a breakdown and lot Australia kick for a lineout 6 metres out.
53 min: Subs Australia 15 Wales 26
Australia make a change at halfback and bring Nic White on for Genia.
52 min: Welsh defence tested Australia 15 Wales 26
Australia are challenging the Welsh defence from 10 metres out here but lose the ball forward yet again.
Wales clear their lines and a spot of kicking tennis ensues. Eventually, Williams puts it out in the Australian half.
51 min: Just a penalty Australia 15 Wales 26
It’s just a penalty for Adams and Australia kick to the corner. Is this a comeback?
51 min: Dropped intercept! Australia 15 Wales 26
Gareth Davies nearly picks off another intercept try but loses the ball!
We’ve stopped play for a TMO check on a potential high tackle from Josh Adams on Australia number eight Isi Naisarani.
48 min: Subs Australia 15 Wales 26
Cheika is upping the tempo and brings on Kurtley Beale
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