Wales vs Australia match report: Welsh suffer worst home defeat for a decade as Wallabies dazzle

Wales 8 Australia 32: The Wallabies raced to a 20-3 lead by half time

Foley scored in the second half for Australia
Foley scored in the second half for Australia

Wales were left struggling for answers either on or off the pitch as Australia inflicted their heaviest defeat in Cardiff for a decade.

Rob Howley’s side were bewildered by their mesmeric opponents in a first-half that was as one-sided as international rugby would normally allow.

Not since a 45-10 defeat to the All Blacks here in 2006 have Wales been quite so utterly out-played and it could have been worse had Bernard Foley kicked his goals.

So often Wales start campaign slowly but here, they stalled completely, caught in the headlights and seemingly star-struck by the Wallabies at full tilt to leave Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley at a loss to excuse.

“We were very disappointed and very frustrated by that first half performance. At one stage Australia’s territory and possession were both 80 per cent. It wasn’t what we expected,” he said.

“The players were pretty distraught at half-time. They never had a foothold in the game and when you allow a team with such cohesion from playing together that much of the play, Australia showed how effective they are. Their speed of ball in the contact area meant we struggled to get our defensive line set and they took every possible advantage.”

Wales are facing a defensive crisis having conceded 26 tries in the last five games, albeit against the three best sides in the world in England, New Zealand three times and Australia.

Rhys Webb was stretched off on oxygen for Wales

Shaun Edwards struck fear in the hearts of attackers with a system that brought two Grand Slams and a Six Nations title but remains incapable of resisting the southern hemisphere.

Certainly Wales could not match the wizardry of Bernard Foley. The Wallaby fly-half, who was on a different level of thinking to anyone else on the pitch, pulling the strings to the back-line and tearing Wales apart in the process. Had his goal-kicking matched his general play, Wales’ humiliation would have been complete.

“Defensively we could have been better in terms of structure and they way we read things on the pitch. But the more we play these sides, the better we will get,” said Howley.

“It’s not about speed or intensity, it was how good Australia were with the ball and how effective they were at the contact area.”

Scott Williams cross for Wales' only score

It is 12 losses in a row now to the Wallabies. Many of those have been lost by a whisker but not this time.

Reports of the Wallabies’ demise appear greatly exaggerated as the so-called ‘clowns’ proved the great entertainers at the Principality Stadium.

Insulted by the New Zealand Herald, Michael Cheika’s side will inevitably, if only due to geography, always be compared to the All Blacks. But compared to the rest, they remain superior in many ways. Against Wales, they were superior in every way.

Second in the Rugby Championship, as well as the World Cup, against second in the Six Nations but there was no comparison. Wales were virtual spectators along with the rest of the shell-shocked fans in the stadium.

Dane Haylett-Petty crossed for the final score for the Wallabies

Wales spoke of ambition to play more expansively but few appeared capable. The exception was Justin Tipuric, who briefly roused Welsh spirits in the second half, while replacement Hallam Amos showed a nice touch for their solitary try and went close himself.

Even Australia’s forwards out-played Wales for handling skills, with prop Sekope Kepu passing out of contact and locks Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman combining for the fourth try, deservedly scored by Foley.

Before that it had been little more than a training session for the Wallabies as Stephen Moore finished a powerful lineout drive and Reece Hodge and Tevita Kuridrani strolled over.

Rhys Webb suffered suspected ankle ligament damage while Sam Davies blighted a promising debut with a reckless pass that Dane Haylett-Petty ran back for a late try to complete the rout.

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