Autumn Internationals: Wales unfortunate to lose after Kurtley Beale's last minute try for Australia

Wales 12 Australia 14

As the match clock ticked into the red zone, with 80 minutes up, it was a perfect day for Wales, complete with their new starting lock Lou Reed. They were 12-9 up and on the cusp of their first win in seven matches. The trouble was the clock was still ticking and Australia had the ball.

Not only that; the Wallabies were about to not so much walk on the wild side as break on the blindside. With one last desperate thrust, their replacement lock Dave Dennis hared up the right touchline. As he did so, Wales’ full-back appeared as the last line of defence on the 22m line.

Leigh Halfpenny had been worth his weight in gold all afternoon, landing four out of five penalty attempts, sparking Wales back to attacking life and riding to the rescue with two text-book try-saving tackles. The scrum-capped number 15 managed to halt Dennis in his tracks but unfortunately for him and for Wales Kurtley Beale had stolen up on the inside.

As Halfpenny executed his crunching tackle and crashed to the turf, the Wallaby fly-half took the ball off Dennis and got Australia off the hook, diving over the whitewash unopposed. It was a cruel, cruel denouement.

The hymns and arias gave way to stunned silence. Halfpenny was stretchered from the field – a more noble vanquished warrior there never was. “He’s gone to hospital,” Wales’ head coach Warren Gatland reported later. “I don’t know what the problem is.”

The deflated Cardiff crowd were in no mood to raise a respectful cheer as the Wallabies bestowed the conversion duties on Nathan Sharpe, their retiring lock and captain for the day. The shaven-headed second rower was no Peter Brown. He employed the same toe-end technique as the former Scotland Number Eight cum lock cum captain but without the same end result.

His effort fell short, just like the heroic 81 minute effort by Halfpenny and an injury-ravaged Welsh side. A seventh successive defeat leaves the 2012 Grand Slammers outside the top eight in the IRB world rankings for Monday’s World Cup draw in London.

“We’re pretty gutted,” Gatland said. “Apart from the last minute I thought we played some outstanding rugby today. We put ourselves in a position where we should have won the game.”

Against the All Blacks the previous Saturday, Gatland’s men had never been in that position, losing three players to injury in the opening quarter - Bradley Davies after being plugged by Andrew Hore in the first minute. This time they got their injury blow in early, Ian Evans withdrawing from the starting XV on Friday night suffering from a knee problem. That left Reed to plug the second row gap left by the concussed Davies.

Wales struggled to get a grip at line-out time all afternoon but managed to regain some measure of their attacking mojo. That was clear from the 13 minute, when Rhys Priestland chose to run from behind his posts rather than kick for touch. The ball was shipped on via Jamie Roberts to Alex Cuthbert, who hared some 70m up the right before being lassoed around the legs by Berrick Barnes.

Beale opened the scoring with a penalty success at the other end soon after but the force was with Wales. When Nick Cummins strayed off his feet at a ruck, Halfpenny stepped up to level the scores in the 19 minute. The Cardiff Blues player followed up with trademark long-range penalty from inside his own half three minutes later and the Dragons had their noses in front and their tails up.

Not since the Grand Slam clincher against France here in March had Halfpenny tasted victory for club or country and the pocket rocket of a full-back exploded out of defence in the 25 minute, charging up the middle, chipping over Barnes and hacking the ball on across the Wallaby try-line. It was not clear at first sight whether Sam Warburton or Toby Faletau had managed to touch the ball down ahead of Wycliff Palu but the television match official  ruled in favour of the Wallaby Number Eight.

Frustratingly, though, Wales kept transgressing at the breakdown, two further penalty successes by Beale furnishing Australia with a 9-6 half-time lead. The Wallabies might have stretched out in front had Halfpenny not made a try scoring tackle on Drew Mitchell eleven minutes into the second-half.

As it was, the Welsh full-back put his team on level terms three minutes later, landing a penalty from the Australian 10m line after replacement flanker Dave Dennis had been pinged for rising mid-scrum. On the hour mark Halfpenny hoofed Wales back in front, converting his fourth penalty after Sharpe smothered the ball at a ruck in the shadow of the Australian posts.

When Halfpenny nailed the breaking Barnes with a minute to go it seemed like the Welsh autumn of missed opportunities and fruitlessness was about to end with a winning flourish. Sadly, it was not to be

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links