Australians send warning signal to Great Britain

Wales 4 Australia 76
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The Independent Online

Australia recorded their biggest ever victory over Wales as they began to run ominously into form in time for Saturday's first Test against Great Britain.

All the Australian backs scored tries as they mauled a limited Welsh side in Bridgend, but this was still a patchy performance.

"It felt a lot better out there,'' said the Australian prop, Shane Webcke. "There was a lot more cohesion but it was still scrappy in places.''

That raises the question of what a really on-song Kangaroo team would have done, because Wales's combination of battle-scarred veterans and novices was never up to this task. "We had our reservations about playing Australia from the start,'' admitted the Welsh coach, Neil Kelly, who broke ranks with other international coaches by saying that he slightly favoured Australia to win the Ashes.

The writing was on the wall from the first minutes, with Australia finding it all too easy to breach the Welsh defence, with Ryan Girdler, Phil Bailey and Steve Simpson all going over as they scored at the rate of more than a point a minute.

Craig Gower kicked into the wide open spaces to set up the outstanding Brett Kimmorley and Luke Ricketson's pass released Darren Lockyer, who had returned to the field after taking a whack across his nose in the early stages. Ian Watson's sharp run then gave the Australian-born Kris Tassell the one Welsh try of the afternoon, with Mark Lennon missing the touchline conversion.

Craig Fitzgibbon was given a far easier task for all his kicks, which showed how porous Wales were through the middle and he had a simple sixth goal before half-time when Danny Buderus sold a dummy to cut through. Wales had their best spell at the start of the second half, forcing Australia to defend for five minutes before Kimmorley spoilt it all with a runaway try.

Shannon Hegarty and Craig Wing added further tries before the Kangaroos really cut loose against exhausted opposition in the last 10 minutes with four more that slightly overstated how convincing their display had been.

"The opposition was a bit inexperienced and a bit small,'' said the Australian coach, Chris Anderson, whose main concern was a recurrence of Girdler's calf injury.

WALES: Atcheson (Widnes), O'Hare (Huddersfield), Tassell (Swinton), Hughes (Widnes) Gibson (Castleford), Alan James (Widnes), Lennon (Castleford), Roberts (Tumut), Watson (Rochdale), Farrell (Widnes), Aston (Hull KR), Morley (Oldham), Ellis (Bridgend). Substitutes: Bateman (Bridgend), Mills (Widnes), Price (Rochdale), John James (Sheffield).

AUSTRALIA: Lockyer (Brisbane), Minichello (Sydney), Girdler (Henry), Bailey (Cronulla), Hegarty (Sydney), Gower (Henry), Kimmorley (Cronulla), Webcke (Brisbane); Buderus (Newcastle), Civoniceva (Brisbane), Simpson (Newcastle), Fitzgibbon (Sydney), Ricketson (Sydney). Substitutes: Villasanti (NZ Warriors), Mason (Canterbury), Waterhouse (Penrith), Wing (Sydney).

Referee: Kirkpatrick (Warrington).