Beale brilliance gives Australia vital edge

Wales 16 Australia 25: Wales wallop the Wallabies in the scrum and breakdown but tourists' back three have too much creativity for Gatland's men

Has a Wales side ever been so dominant in the scrum, in the error count and in the number of turnovers and still ended a match without coming within a score of a result? This was the nagging question last night as Warren Gatland's men ticked off the positives after their eighth defeat in 10 Tests.

The Welsh front row will wonder how they were anything other than winners. The Wallaby scrum was walloped so conclusively it went way beyond the embarrassing. Wales also, in Gatland's words, "did a job on [David] Pocock" at the breakdown, where they "won" eight turnovers to three.

So where was it lost? Well, the visitors had creativity in abundance, while the home side had creativity in bandages. How they missed the likes of Lee Byrne, at full-back. Gatland said he expected to have the Osprey back for next week's fixture against South Africa and he will be mighty glad of it. James Hook can then return to outside-centre and Wales will have a cutting edge. That is the overwhelming hope.

Such optimism is understandable. Shaun Edwards, the defence coach, expressed it most vehemently. "This was a full-strength Australian side who had beaten New Zealand the week before and we were without four or five players I'd like to think are British Lions," he said. "We'll get them all together one day."

Gatland was critical without being his raging self; not against his own team anyway. He declared himself "furious" over an offside decision that led to the first of three Australian tries and also wondered why the collapsing Australian scrum did not elicit a yellow card. That was a genuine gripe, as every scrum seemed to see Wayne Barnes awarding a penalty.

"We were beaten at the hit on numerous occasions, that was the greatest problem," said Australia's coach, Robbie Deans. "It's obviously a concern. We will revisit it."

With Twickenham looming they should do, particularly as England's win Down Under in the summer stemmed from a similar scrum mauling. "We've always found that when we place great emphasis on something we will grow," said Deans. "And that's what we'll be doing."

But while the England props will be licking their lips, their defenders will be scratching their heads. For this Wallaby outfit are little short of sensational with ball in hand and on another day, with the ball sticking, they would have touched down a couple more. The pace of pass is almost as rapid as the speed of thought and with a back three of James O'Connor, Drew Mitchell and Kurtley Beale, they have some firepower.

It was the last-named who scored the game's most important try, to pull his side away in the 47th minute. That came after what Edwards called a "fortuitous ricochet" , although he conceded the finishing was clinical. Wales could have gone into the break ahead but Stephen Jones missed a few penalties and an O'Connor penalty (the 20-year-old ignoring the disgraceful booing on an accomplished afternoon from the tee) and Pocock's fourth-minute try were enough for Australia. It was a lead they perhaps did not deserve.

But then the game opened up and so did their stride. There were some sublime moments from the Wallabies, not least when Beale collected an up-and-under before putting in an audacious grubber kick. Only some fine defence denied Beale one of the more memorable individual tries; Hook forced a knock-on in the shadow of the posts. The prop Ben Alexander then made up for his ineffectiveness in the set-piece by being on hand to finish a wonderful cross-pitch move on the hour and when Tom Shanklin was shown the yellow card for an early tackle on Pocock a few minutes later, it seemed ominous.

But to their credit Wales dug deep and Richie Rees, the replacement scrum-half, went over for the try they deserved with 10 minutes remaining. It came after two re-set scrums on the Australia line. It was the one time Wales managed to capitalise on their outrageous scrummaging advantage. At least it gave a two-thirds full Millennium Stadium something to cheer.

Wales J Hook (Ospreys); W Harries (Dragons), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), A Bishop, S Williams (both Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys); G Jenkins (Blues), M Rees (Scarlets, capt), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Blues), A W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Dragons), J Thomas (Ospreys), S Warburton (Blues). Replacements M Williams (Blues) for Warburton, 66; D Biggar (Ospreys) for S Jones, 66; R Rees (Blues) for Phillips, 66; P James (Ospreys) for Jenkins, 71; D Jones (Blues) for A W Jones, 75; C Czekaj (Blues) for Shanklin, 75, H Bennett (Ospreys) for M Rees, 75.

Australia K Beale (New South Wales Waratahs); J O'Connor (Western Force), A Ashley-Cooper, M Giteau (both ACT Brumbies), D Mitchell (Waratahs); Q Cooper, W Genia (both Queensland Reds); B Robinson (Waratahs), S Faingaa (Reds), B Alexander, M Chisholm (both Brumbies), N Sharpe (Force), R Elsom (Brumbies, capt), B McCalman, D Pocock (both Force). Replacements H Edmonds (Brumbies) for Faingaa, 54; B Slipper (Reds) for Alexander, 62; B Barnes (Waratahs) for Giteau, 68; L Burgess (Waratahs) for Genia, 74; D Mumm (Waratahs) for Chisholm, 75

Referee W Barnes (England).

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all