Thursday 21 September 2017

Genia cranks up the style

Australia 27 Wales 19

Michael Aylwin

A way still to go, then. Despite a stirring fightback, which brought them to within a point of Australia with 17 minutes to play, Wales were out-played by the supposedly bedraggled Wallabies for too much of a highly entertaining match in Brisbane.



Three tries to one tells its own story. How ridiculous it suddenly seems to have written off a side containing some of these Aussies. Five days ago, Will Genia and David Pocock were on the edge of clinical hypothermia after the monsoon they played in against Scotland, but they cast aside their hot cocoas to take up their accustomed roles at the heart of this team.

Genia, in particular, plays the game on another level to any scrumhalf in the world when on this sort of form. His try at the beginning of the second half, which opened up a 17-3 lead was an astonishing feat of pace and audacity, to which Wales had no answer. But throughout the match he was a bundle of trickery and imagination, with Pocock and Scott Higginbotham almost as effective in a more abrasive manner.

Australia burst into the game in a manner unrecognisable from the soaking wetness of their showing against Scotland on Tuesday. The pitch was a little heavy, but the air was dry, and with the opprobrium of the nation ringing in their ears, the Wallabies were urgent and precise.

They racked up a 10-point lead in the first quarter. Rob Horne butchered a simple overlap, but straight from Wales's clearance Australia were attacking again through rumble after rumble, until Higginbotham drove over for the game's first try.

Genia's genius overflowed with that try in the 42nd minute, nipping between Adam Jones and Ken Owens, then shimmying around James Hook, while keeping a legion of chasing Welshmen a few yards behind.

But Wales waxed with the introduction of a few of their title-winning Ospreys, and Ashley Beck's neat offload sent Alex Cuthbert to the line just shy of the hour. Lee Halfpenny's conversion and fourth penalty a few minutes later brought Wales to within one point. Suddenly, Australia looked as if they might be struggling.

They benefited, however, from their own influx of subs, led by the young Pocock clone, Michael Hooper. Pat McCabe cut a fine line off Genia to put the game to bed in the 67th minute. The series is still alive, though, but this is not where Wales wanted to be.

Scorers -- Australia: Higginbotham, Genia, McCabe try each; Barnes 3 con, pen, d-g; Wales: Cuthbert try; Halfpenny 4 pens, con

Australia: Ashley-Cooper; Vuna, Horne, McCabe, Ioane; Barnes, Genia; Robinson, Polota-Nau, Kepu, Simmons, Sharpe, Higginbotham, Pocock (capt), Palu. Reps: Faingaa for Horne (50-57), Moore for Polata-Nau (55), Hooper for Palu (58), Alexander for Robinson (59), Dennis for Sharpe (64), Faingaa for Vuna (71)

Wales: Halfpenny; Cuthbert, J Davies, Williams, North; Priestland, Phillips; Jenkins, Owens, A Jones, B Davies, Charteris, Lydiate, Warburton (capt), Faletau. Reps: Hook for North (28), AW Jones for Charteris (51), R Jones for Faletau (51) Rees for Owens (51) Beck for M Williams (55), James for A Jones (75)

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

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