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Ten in a row for Wallabies as Wales throw win away again

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Australia winger Adam Ashley-Cooper Wales tries to hold off a challenge from Wales's George North during their clash at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Australia winger Adam Ashley-Cooper Wales tries to hold off a challenge from Wales's George North during their clash at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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Wales captain Sam Warburton makes a break for the Australia line during their clash at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Wales captain Sam Warburton makes a break for the Australia line during their clash at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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Tevita Kuidrani dives over to score Australia's third try during their clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Tevita Kuidrani dives over to score Australia's third try during their clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

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Australia winger Adam Ashley-Cooper Wales tries to hold off a challenge from Wales's George North during their clash at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

"Dai-ja vu" they call it and "Dai-ja vu" it shall remain as Wales once again conceded a lead in the final 10 minutes to give Australia their 10th win in succession against the Dragons.

It will have been of no consolation to Warren Gatland that this was a cracker, which absorbed from first minute to last. But even though the Welsh faithful will bemoan their 21st defeat in a row to the Southern Hemisphere's big three and wonder how they can have lost their last five matches against the Wallabies by five points or fewer, there is little doubt the best team won.

And, quite obviously, that does not bode well for next year's World Cup where Wales will once again face Australia in a group which also includes England.

"It is frustrating, I'm not happy with the scoreline, but am happy with the performance," Gatland said. "We missed two one-on-one tackles and threw an interception and those are little things which cost us big. But they are fixable."

For now, Wales have the fitness of Leigh Halfpenny to fret about, as well as that of fly-half Dan Biggar. Halfpenny left with a head injury and may be a doubt for the All Blacks game in two weeks' time.

Biggar exited with a groin injury and another No 10 will be called up, probably James Hook.

Well something or someone had to give in that frenzied beginning. Nobody who saw it will ever forget that opening period which yielded six tries and so much drama.

It was a first half in which the players barely had time to draw breath. But although it was pulsating, at times it resembled basketball. The respective defence coaches would have been having kittens, Shaun Edwards in particular. But afterwards Gatland claimed that Wales hardly did any tackling practice, concentrating instead on conditioning and fitness.

Again, Gatland took the positive view. Wales' first try arrived after only three minutes when, from just outside the 22, Rhys Webb sold an outrageous dummy which was bought by the debutant Sean McMahon, leaving the scrumhalf a simple sprint to the line.

It was not to be only the mistake of the 40. Far from it. Wales could claim what little control was apparent, but each of Wallabies' trio of tries came from blunders.

In the 16th minute, Biggar allowed Michael Hooper to bounce away when he was seemingly held and the opposing captain duly put in the irrepressible Israel Folau.

Five minutes later, it was another Welsh giveaway. A Webb of deception it was not, this time around. After Jamie Roberts had burst through to the brink of the 22, Webb for some reason missed out North and went for the 20-yard Hollywood pass which Folau intercepted with ease and turned in a simple second try.

Australia were 14-7 to the good but, not for long. Adam Ashley-Cooper was the villain on this occasion, bizarrely cutting in, giving North the chance to tear through. With a two-on-one with Folau, North put in Alex Cuthbert.

The chaotic magnificence continued when Tevita Kuidrani broke not just one tackle but two as Cuthbert and Alun-Wyn Jones clattered into each other as they both attempted to tackle the huge centre. It was in the build-up that Halfpenny received the knock which forced his removal. The Toulon full-back fell over when he tried to run back and the Welsh camp will nervously await the concussion tests. North was sent to his normal position of wing with Liam Williams reverting to the fullback role and Corey Allen coming off the bench.

In the last seconds, Warburton made a big call when electing to run a penalty a few metres in front of the posts, but his bravery was rewarded when Alun-Wyn Jones squeezed over. Biggar applied the extras and after all that, we were back where we started.

In the first 20 minutes of the second half, Australia took a six-point advantage through Bernard Foley's right boot. But Wales were not finished and after North was held up over the line by Ashley-Cooper on the hour, there was an agonising five minutes which featured the crowd screaming for a penalty try as Wales kept taking the scrum and hurtling the visiting pack into the ground.

There were five scrums in all, before referee Craig Joubert decided enough was enough and went under the posts, arm raised. The crowd responded euphorically. With seven minutes remaining, the hush descended. It was all so familiar.

After 20 phases, Nick Phipps released the ball to Foley whose drop-goal took Australia two points ahead. Wales charged into the green and gold half, but yet again their game management and discipline were found lacking.

They played through a penalty advantage, but then, when the ball went to ground, Matt Hodgson, the replacement, forced the penalty turnover. From that, Foley kicked his third penalty, making it 18 points for this impressive playmaker. Wales had one last foray but to no avail.

Close, but the same old story, although Gatland is adamant there will a dramatic improvement when the squad spends three months together before the World Cup. "We will be a different beast that Australia face then," Gatland said. They will have to be.

Scorers: Wales: R Webb, A Cuthbert tries; R Jones 1 pen; L Halfpenny 2 cons; D Biggar 1 con; R Priestland 1 con. Australia: I Folau 2 tries; T Kuridrani try; B Foley 3 pens, 3 cons, 1 drop goal.

Wales: L Halfpenny (C Allen 31); A Cuthbert, G North, J Roberts, L Williams; D Biggar (R Priestland 48), R Webb (M Phillips 54); P James (S Baldwin 58), R Hibbard (G Jenkins 58), S Lee (R Jones 69), J Ball (B Davies 69), A-W Jones, D Lydiate (J Tipuric 76), S Warburton, T Faletau.

Australia: I Folau; A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, C Leali'ifano (R Horne 77), J Tomane; B Foley, N Phipps (W Genia 69); J Slipper (T Faulkner 74), S Fainga'a (J Hanson 60), S Kepu (B Alexander 68), S Carter (W Skelton 51), R Simmons (J Horwill 68), S McMahon (M Hodgson 71) , M Hooper, B McCalman.

Referee: C Joubert (South Africa).

Telegraph

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