Tuesday 16 January 2018

Harris wins it for Wallabies

Australia 25 Wales 23

SUBSTITUTE Mike Harris broke Welsh hearts with an injury-time penalty to snatch a dramatic win for Australia in Melbourne.

Wales appeared on course to keep the series alive with a historic first win over the Wallabies in Australia since 1969 as the faultless boot of Leigh Halfpenny kept the Grand Slam champions in front.

But with the clock in the red, New Zealand referee Chris Pollock penalised Wales after Australia launched a powerful rolling maul and Harris showed nerves of steel to crush Welsh dreams.

Wales, accused of making a slow start last week, came flying out of the blocks with a series of powerful pick and drives.

Mike Phillips, Halfpenny and Alex Cuthbert were all prominent in the build-up as Wales roared into the Wallabies half before George North powered over from close range.

Halfpenny, who kicked all before him in Brisbane, maintained his 100 per cent record Down Under to stretch Wales' early lead to seven points.

Berrick Barnes, who only rejoined the Wallabies squad four hours prior to kick-off following the birth of his first child, Archie, hit back for the hosts and added a second penalty on the half-hour mark to cut Wales' lead to one point.

But the Tri-Nations champions piled on the pressure, and Barnes beat Warburton on the outside and dummied past Ashley Beck to release Rob Horne for the crucial try.

Barnes added the extras on the stroke of half-time as Wales entered the interval trailing 13-7.

But the Dragons again started the half firing and Jonathan Davies went over.

Halfpenny expertly slotted the conversion to regain the lead, and the fullback exchanged penalties with Barnes as Wales kept their noses in front.

Barnes knocked over another penalty but Australia were dealt a blow when Cooper Vuna was sent to the sin-bin after a clumsy challenge on Halfpenny in the air, who got straight back to his feet and slotted a monster penalty to regain the slender lead.

Barnes hit-back after Bradley Davies was penalised at the breakdown but Halfpenny was again on target after the Welsh pack flexed its muscle at scrum time.

Australia frantically hammered at Wales but Rob Howley's men held strong as mistakes creeped into the Wallabies game.

But Wales were penalised with the clock ticking and Australia kicked to the corner. They launched a rolling maul and Wales were penalised, with New Zealand-born flyhalf Harris writing his name in Wallaby history.

Scorers -- Australia: Horne try, Barnes 5 pens, con, Harris pen. Wales: North try, J Davies try, Halfpenny 2 pens, 2 cons

Australia: A Ashley-Cooper; C Vuna (A Fainga'a 71), R Horne, P McCabe, D Ioane; B Barnes (M Harris 74), W Genia; B Robinson (B Alexander 65), T Polota-Nau (S Moore 51), S Kepu, R Simmons (M Hooper 70), N Sharpe, S Higginbotham, D Pocock (capt), W Palu (D Dennis 55)

Wales: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, J Davies, A Beck, G North; R Priestland, M Phillips (R Webb 66); G Jenkins, M Rees (R Hibbard 68), A Jones, B Davies, AW Jones (L Charteris 68), D Lydiate, S Warburton (capt), R Jones

Referee: C Pollock (New Zealand)

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