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Outclassed Wales cut to pieces by Australia

Published 05/11/2016

Reece Hodge goes in for one of Australia's tries.
Reece Hodge goes in for one of Australia's tries.

Australia cruised to a 12th successive victory over woeful Wales as they ran their hosts ragged at the Principality Stadium.

Wales' four-Test autumn series - Argentina, Japan and South Africa await over the next three weeks - could not have started in less convincing fashion as Australia shredded them at will, running out 32-8 victors.

It was Wales' heaviest home defeat since New Zealand crushed them 46-10 in November, 2006.

Centres Reece Hodge and Tevita Kuridrani both scored tries, while skipper Stephen Moore, magnificent fly-half Bernard Foley and wing Dane Haylett-Petty also touched down, with Foley adding a penalty and two conversions to leave Wales floundering.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny, making his first Wales appearance since suffering a knee ligament injury 14 months ago, kicked a penalty, while centre Scott Williams claimed a try following impressive build-up work from substitute Hallam Amos, but there was no disputing Australia's control.

Wales still have not beaten the Wallabies since 2008, and interim head coach Rob Howley - in charge this season while Warren Gatland concentrates on British and Lions business building towards next summer's New Zealand tour - has a huge job ahead of him.

Wales went into battle without four British and Irish Lions Test players - Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau and Jonathan Davies - with centre Davies a late withdrawal due to a tight hamstring, which meant his fellow Scarlets midfielder Williams starting.

Australia, meanwhile, showed two changes from the side beaten by New Zealand last time out, with David Pocock reverting to blindside flanker instead of a suspended Dean Mumm, and Kuridrani featuring in midfield alongside Hodge.

Foley and Halfpenny, playing his first Test since suffering a World Cup-ending knee injury 14 months ago, exchanged early penalties, but there was no disguising Australia's dominance in terms of territory and possession.

And that control was underlined after just 11 minutes when the Wallabies pack relentlessly drove a lineout towards Wales' last line of defence, and Moore pounced for a try.

Foley could not add the conversion, but Wales were then temporarily reduced to 14 men when fly-half Dan Biggar was rightly yellow-carded for challenging Wallabies wing Haylett-Petty off the ball as Australia attacked through full-back Israel Folau.

Wales had no foothold in the game whatsoever, and accompanied by a muted atmosphere, there was precious little to be enthused about from a Welsh perspective.

Although Australia could not score when Biggar was off, they quickly made amends by pouncing for two further touchdowns during an eight-minute spell that underlined how far off the pace Wales were.

Hodge scored following brilliant work by Foley and Folau, then Kuridrani crashed through wafer-thin defence and Foley converted to give Australia a 20-3 interval lead that would have been even more emphatic had it not been for some attacking profligacy.

Wales, mainly through the work of openside flanker Justin Tipuric, enjoyed a better spell early in the second half, yet Australia still looked far more dangerous with ball in hand as backs and forwards linked impressively.

And it was only a matter of time before Australia scored again as Wales were once again cut open in defence, and Foley applied a brilliant finish to put the Wallabies 22 points clear.

Williams' impressive finish at least gave the crowd something to cheer, but such promise quickly evaporated as scrum-half Rhys Webb went off nursing an ankle injury and was replaced by Gareth Davies.

Wales can only hope that Webb will be fit to play a further part in the autumn series, and they at least finished strongly, reserving their best spell for the final 15 minutes with Amos particularly making an impact.

Australia, though, predictably had the final say when Haylett-Petty burst into space to complete the rout, and Foley converted.

Press Association

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