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Wales learned lessons to down the Aussies, says thrilled Gatland

Wales 29 Australia 25

Happy days: Wales kick off their celebrations after winning the potentially pool-defining clash against Australia
Happy days: Wales kick off their celebrations after winning the potentially pool-defining clash against Australia

By Andrew Baldock

Wales boss Warren Gatland hailed his players' composure and fitness after they moved towards the World Cup quarter-finals with a memorable victory over Australia.

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The Pool D showdown did not disappoint as Wales cruised into a 26-8 lead before Australia went within a point of drawing level - and were then finally broken by replacement Rhys Patchell's late penalty.

Wales' 29-25 triumph keeps them on course for a potential last-eight clash against France or Argentina - but Australia appear to be hurtling towards a quarter-final appointment with England and their former head coach Eddie Jones.

It was Wales' second win in succession against Australia but a first World Cup victory over the Wallabies since 1987.

"I would like to see them (Wales players) celebrate tonight," Gatland said. "They deserve to celebrate - it was a tough game and a great win.

"Australia were really good in the second half, put us under a lot of pressure and had a lot of ball. And it became a typical Wales-Australia clash, going down to the wire. To win that is very pleasing, and that means the pool is our own destiny.

"Our game-management has improved significantly. It was good in the autumn last year, and particularly in the Six Nations. We've learnt a lot.

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"Even though we were under a lot of pressure in that second half, I thought our composure and fitness were really good and we soaked up a lot of pressure."

Gatland confirmed fly-half Dan Biggar failed a head injury assessment - he was replaced by Patchell during the first half - and that full-back Liam Williams rolled his ankle.

"Dan failed an HIA," Gatland added. "I had a chat with him afterwards. He's disappointed he had to come off, but it is important we go through the (HIA) protocols.

"Rhys (Patchell) did a fantastic job for us. He's been criticised a lot for his defence in the past. We changed a few things about the way he defended, and I thought his linespeed was excellent.

"He made some big tackles for us and controlled the game pretty well. It was a big match for him to come on early and get the win, and he will get a lot of confidence from that."

Wales looked home and dry when they led through tries by centre Hadleigh Parkes and scrum-half Gareth Davies, with Biggar and Patchell kicking 19 points between them including Patchell's 72nd-minute clincher.

Wing Adam Ashley-Cooper, full-back Dane Haylett-Petty and captain Michael Hooper claimed touchdowns for Australia, with Bernard Foley kicking a penalty and Matt Toomua booting seven points.

But Wales held out to claim victory.

"It was just about winning, really. It wasn't about knockout stages," added Gatland.

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