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Wales seal crucial World Cup victory over Australia

International | 29th September 2019

Four Cardiff Blues players featured as Wales secured a crucial Rugby World Cup victory over Australia on Sunday.

Warren Gatland's side maintained their 100 per cent record in the tournament as they edged out the Wallabies in a highly entertaining yet tense Test match in Tokyo.

Wales were in the driving seat at half time after Scarlets duo Gareth Davies and Hadleigh Parkes crossed the whitewash.

Scarlets outside half and Cardiff Blues academy product, Rhys Patchell, kept the scoreboard ticking after the break, but the Australian showed character to battle back into proceedings.

However, Wales managed to cling on to their four-point lead to go three points ahead in Pool D, with games against Uruguay and Fiji on the horizon.

It was a lively start to the affair, with Aaron Wainwright's counter rucking enough to earn a turnover immediately after kick off. This gave Dan Biggar the opportunity to sucker punch Australia with a sweetly-struck drop goal to put Wales ahead after only a minute of action.

A scrum penalty for Wales saw Biggar take them into the Australian 22, and after securing the line-out, the pressure was on the Wallabies defence.

Referee Romain Poite signalled for a penalty advantage in Wales' favour and Biggar immediately sent a crossfield kick out wide, with centre Parkes beating Marika Koroibete to the high ball and touching down in the corner.

The Northampton Saints outside half converted to extend his side's lead, and moments later Australia escaped a yellow card following a late hit from captain Michael Hooper on Justin Tipuric.

Australia opened their account after Bernard Foley produced a crossfield kick of his own to find the veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper, who dotted down on his 119th international appearance. The number 10's conversion was wide but he bounced back to add a penalty and bring his side within two points.

Josh Adams came close to crossing for a second time as he hacked ahead, however, the Cardiff Blues wing was blocked by full back Dane Haylett-Petty, allowing the covering defence to win the race for the loose ball.

There was a blow for Gatland's side as Biggar was forced off for a HIA, with Patchell introduced into the game after only 30 minutes. One of his first actions was stepping up for a penalty, and the Scarlets man made no mistakes to add a further three points.

There was further controversy as Poite penalised Samu Kerevi for leading into Patchell with his forearm. With captain Michael Hooper protesting, the centre escaped a yellow card but Patchell struck another penalty.

With half time approaching, Wales struck a devastating blow into Australian hopes. Scrum half Davies read Genia's long pass to intercept, and had enough pace to outrun the covering defence and dive in.

Wales had a 23-8 lead heading into the interval, which was extended in the opening stages of the second half as Patchell made no mistakes with a drop goal.

However, replacement Matt Toomua added spark into the Wallabies, and his half break put Michael Cheika's side on the front foot. The ball was eventaully worked to Haylett-Petty who dotted down to reduce the deficit.

Adams was penalised for a high tackle, but his challenge was not deemed worth of a card, but Australia failed to make the most of the opportunity.

Following a sustained period of pressure on the Wales defence, they finally broke down as skipper Hooper crashed over under the sticks to set up a nervy ending.

Toomua's penalty brought them within a point, but Patchell replied to regain the four point advantage.

Australia had to gamble, and a penalty from a scrum gave them opportunity to advance upfield. However, replacement Tomos Williams displayed fantastic skill to acrobatically keep the ball in play and relieve pressure for his side. 

Gatland's side managed to hold out, with Williams kicking the ball dead in the final play to make it two from two for the men in red.

Wales could secure a place in the knockout stages against Fiji in the next round of action, before the pool stage comes to an end against Uruguay.