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Wales secured their first victory over a southern hemisphere team in 32 years by beating Australia 29-25 in a breath-taking contest, finally getting the monkey off their back while also signalling the beginning of much greater things to come.
If Wales are to reign over Yokohama on 2 November then this night will have plenty to do with it. Having not beaten the Wallabies – or their fellow southern hemisphere giants – since the inaugural 1987 tournament, this was more about sending a statement than anything else: Wales are here to win the World Cup.
Inspired by the brilliant scrum-half Gareth Davies, Wales burst out of the blocks to lead by 18 points early in the second half but, as has happened so many times before, it all came down to a nail-biting one-score finish.
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This time, however, history was on Wales’s side.
It was a match given big billing by World Rugby: the Sunday afternoon slot on the second weekend of pool fixtures. And boy it did not disappoint.
From the very start of the match Wales went about trying to assert a dominance that they don’t usually enjoy at World Cups. And it was a tactic that worked, as within a minute they had the lead. Wales immediately turned over the first ruck after Michael Hooper claimed the kick-off, the ball was set back to Dan Biggar and he was quickly heading for the restart after firing off a rarely-seen drop-goal.
The opening quarter was all about Wales. It doesn’t take much for this squad to rise to the occasion as they have shown countless times before, and it was evident how were pumped up for this one.
The tone was further set when Australia found themselves forced to concede penalty infringements in order to prevent try-scoring chances. That gave Wales numerous free plays to shoot for the line, and the at the first opportunity after Rory Arnold high-tackled Alun Wyn Jones, Biggar sent up a high cross-field kick that exposed Marika Koroibete and allowed Parkes to catch cleanly and score
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