Wales confirmed its World Cup ambitions by leading Group D at the expense of Australia, where it surpassed 29-25 in Tokyo. Imperial in the first period (23-8) but weaker in the second, XV del Puerro, who had just defeated Georgia (43-14), gave a giant step to the quarterfinals through the first position of their area, which would ensure facing the second of the key C (England, France or Argentina).
The Wallabies, who beat Fiji (39-21) in their debut, must impose their history against Uruguay and Georgia and to accompany the British team. The duel reminded Argentina-France (21-23) of September 21, where each team was better in a part of the match. Dominating before the dressing room, the Welsh saw their confidence eroded and their advantage eroded.
The Europeans did not panic when they were almost on target. Candidates for a first final as a farewell gift to their coach, Warren Gatland, retain aspects of the game that led them to the Grand Slam in this year’s Six Nations Tournament: a very aggressive and clean defense – only two penalties conceded in the first half – and a precise set of feet.
“I’m very happy with the character we showed, especially in the second half,” said Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones. “We had a great first half and then we were a little uncertain in the second half. We have to look at that, but happy with the result. Australia came with everything, they tested our determination,” he added.
“I’m very relieved now. It was a tough second half but the boys recovered. We didn’t have much of a ball in the second half and Australia put us under a lot of pressure, but fortunately, we were able to hold on,” said Gatland on their side.
Powerless against the Welsh’ well-placed defense, except when Adam Ashley-Cooper got a try from Bernard Foley, the Australians woke up in the second half with the change from their opening Foley to Matt Toomua in the 45th minute.
In order to stay ahead of the scoreboard and never to be caught up throughout the match, the Welsh relied on a surgical standing game. They opened the scoreboard after 37 seconds with a Dan Biggar drop and increased the lead with a try from the second Hadleigh Parkes center (13), assisted by Biggar’s own foot.
The Welsh took off at the end of the first half with a penalty and a scrum try from midfielder Gareth Davies (38, 23-8). But the withdrawal (28) by the shock of the opening Biggar could destabilize the XV of the Leek, despite his replacement, Rhys Patchell, signed a great performance.
The problems in the Number 10 also affected the Wallabies, as the Australian coach, Michael Cheika, changed Bernard Foley at the beginning of the second half, after a lousy performance.
The entry of Matt Toomua changed the face of the match. David Pocock assisted Dane Haylett-Petty to get a try (46), which was followed by another Hooper (61). The tries and a penalty from Toomua (67) placed the Wallabies to a single point (26-25), but could not add more and the comeback could not be completed. “We lost by very few points. It was a very even match, it happens sometimes,” said Cheika after the final whistle.