Australia 20-19 Wales, Sydney, June 23
Wallabies complete series whitewash
June 23, 2012
Date/Time: Jun 23, 2012, 15:00 local, 05:00 GMT
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
Australia 20 - 19 Wales
Attendance: 42889  Half-time: 12 - 8
Tries: Horne
Pens: Barnes 5
Tries: RP Jones
Cons: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 4
Australia celebrate victory over Wales, Australia v Wales, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Australia, June 23, 2012
Australia celebrate another hard-fought victory over Wales in Sydney
© PA Photos
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Teams: Australia | Wales

Australia edged out Wales 20-19 in their third and final Test at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney to complete a 3-0 series whitewash.

Story of the Game

  • Man of the Match: The Wallabies' stand-in skipper David Pocock was once again a key factor in his side's victory with a typical all-action display.
  • Key Moment: Wales were no strangers to referee Craig Joubert's whistle with 14 penalties going against them but they could have no argument about the 'truck and trailer' call in the 72nd minute cleverly won by the Wallabies deep inside their own half. Two minutes later Australia's Berrick Barnes kicked what would be the match-winning penalty.
  • Hero of the Game: Australia's Rob Horne crossed for the pivotal try but only just. Replays of his score showed just how close he came to losing control of the ball as he touched down with TMO Vinny Munro convinced he did just enough to earn the score.
  • Villain of the Game: Wales' penalty count and unforced errors contributed largely to their latest agonising defeat but it is their shortcomings at the re-start that were most alarming as they repeatedly gifted the initiative back to Australia have registered a score.
  • Talking Point: Close, but not close enough. A one-point loss represents Wales' best result of the series but for the third successive week they conspired to lose a game that they could have easily won. Could their failure to get the job done be due to a mental barrier?
  • Play of the Game: With the contest won and the game all but over, Australia did not make the same mistake that Wales committed last week and closed out the win by keeping it tight and not offering the visitors any chance of a late turnaround.

After falling to narrow losses in the opening two Tests Wales only had pride to play for in Sydney, but they looked on course to seal a first win over the Wallabies in their own backyard since 1969 when Leigh Halfpenny struck a late penalty, following tries from Ryan Jones and Australia's Rob Horne. But Berrick Barnes stepped up to break Welsh hearts again with a 75th minute match-winning penalty.

Rob Howley showed faith in the side that crashed to the 25-23 defeat in Melbourne last week, naming an unchanged starting line-up. Australia were able recall Kurtley Beale. The star fullback had recovered from a shoulder injury and was made available for selection despite being investigated by police for a nightclub fracas ahead of the first Test.

Wales got off to a worrying start at the Allianz Stadium, with the Australians determined to inflict a whitewash on the Six Nations champions. Sitaleki Timani clattered Halfpenny with a late tackle and Barnes banged over an early penalty. But the red-hot fullback shook off the knock to level the scores in the eighth minute after the Wallabies were penalised for failing to roll away from a ruck.

The hosts almost instantly responded as Wales were pinged straight from the restart but again Halfpenny hit back with a monstrous shot at goal. In Melbourne the lead changed hands on 11 occasions and the third and final Test was set to become another thriller with Barnes on target.

Wales were growing in confidence and they surged up field with Jon Davies and giant wings George North and Alex Cuthbert carrying to good effect. But David Pocock's influence on the game was growing and the Wallabies captain managed to snatch two turnovers in quick succession, as the opportunity was lost.

The Wallabies cleared down field but Sam Warburton proved he was just as potent at the breakdown, stealing possession and breaking clear from deep inside his half. He was eventually dragged down and Wales hammered at the Wallabies before they settled for a third Halfpenny penalty.

Wales were dealt a major blow shortly before the half hour mark with Warburton forced off to be replaced by Justin Tipuric and Barnes compounded Welsh woes with his fourth penalty to hand the Wallabies a 12-9 lead at the interval.

Wales lost another talisman at half-time as Gethin Jenkins failing to return from the changing rooms with Paul James coming on. But the enforced change only strengthened the Welsh scrum and they were rewarded with a penalty, which for the first time in Australia Halfpenny failed to convert. But Wales quickly demonstrated their attacking flair.

Following a Beale chip over the top, North ran the ball back from deep inside his half and linked with Alex Cuthbert, who in turn offloaded to Rhys Priestland. The fly-half drilled the ball into the corner and Tipuric forced Beale over his own try-line.

Wales dominated a succession of scrums but failed to earn the penalty try they wanted. They continued to exert pressure and Jones crashed over under the posts following strong charges from Mike Phillips and Cuthbert.

Halfpenny fired over the conversion but Horne hit-back within a matter of minutes, after the Wallabies created an easy overlap. He missed the conversion and Halfpenny took full advantage with his fourth successful penalty to set-up a nail-biting finale. But in all too familiar circumstances the Wallabies came fighting back at in the closing stages and Barnes demonstrated his nerves of steel to seal the win.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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