Wallaby update with video
November 6, 2006
The Rugby Heaven website, which is operated from the rugby writers at the Sydney Morning Herald, are well & truly riding the new technology and making life easy for all of us. O-kay, so maybe Greg Crowden isn't the world's greatest rugby writer and lots of fans love to hate him. But last year he and Ben Kimber started their Super 14 and Tri-Nations video previews, which I linked to fairly often. Now they have gone even one better, offering not merely a match report (as below) but providing video links of pertinent plays splashed throughout the match report. Now, you don't just have to read about Chris Latham's spectacular try -- you can watch it at the same time. Better yet, they also provide FREE video highlight packages PLUS the ENTIRE GAME ON VIDEO (see box below). For that reason alone I have gone through and html-ed all the links and re-printed in full. Rugby fans everywhere would do well to bookmark Rugby Heaven and look for future video packages.
Back-line brilliance cheers Connolly
Greg Growden in Cardiff
Monday, November 6, 2006
Video: Wales v Australia: 1st half highlights
Video: Wales v Australia: 2nd half highlights
Video: Wales v Australia full game - First half part 1
Video: Wales v Australia full game - First half part 2
Video: Wales v Australia full game - Second half part 1
Video: Wales v Australia full game - Second half part 2
Wales 29 Australia 29
The Wallabies, although bitterly disappointed they wasted opportunities to put away Wales, have been revitalised by their revamped backline being a success during yesterday's drawn Test at Millennium Stadium.
Australia squandered a 17-6 lead and then messed up an important scrum just in front of the Welsh tryline which could have easily given them victory in the final minute. But, unlike last year's depressing loss in Cardiff, it was hardly doom and gloom in the Australian camp, especially as the two major backline experiments where Matt Giteau and Stephen Larkham played new positions - halfback and inside centre respectively - worked.
Wallabies coach John Connolly was so enthused that he admitted he will persevere with the same attacking combination on the tour, which involves keeping Giteau at halfback.
And if Giteau continues to excel in that role, don't be surprised if he and not Australia's most capped player George Gregan is the Test halfback this time next year at the World Cup in France. Giteau was fast, effective and unpredictable in the role, enabling the Wallabies backline to pick up their momentum and perform with greater efficiency.
A cautious Connolly threw out a hint that Gregan, who made himself unavailable for the European tour, was now under serious threat, when he said of Giteau's performance that it had made "the Test halfback spot very competitive".
And Giteau, once reticent about playing at halfback, wants to stay there.
"I actually enjoyed it, when I didn't think I would," Giteau said. "I had a lot more space than I thought I would have. Things came naturally. I probably felt more comfortable there, than when I went back to inside centre in the second half."
Asked if he was happy to continue at No 9, Giteau replied: "Definitely."
The high standard of yesterday's Test, which involved numerous excellent passages of play, indicates that next year's World Cup pool match between these two teams will be one of the early highlights of the tournament.
And a prime reason for the Test being so compelling was that Australia had through the switching around of personnel and having several attacking prongs in the backline, looked so much better with ball in hand.
For the opening half hour, Australia were right on their game, going well ahead after Larkham threw a great pass to Wycliff Palu which set up winger Cameron Shepherd's first of two tries [Video: Shepherd scores], followed by a marvellous moment of initiative by Giteau.
A clever Chris Latham chip and chase in the 18th minute led to an Australian penalty [Video: Chris Latham chip and chase], within easy distance of the Welsh posts. However Wallabies captain Phil Waugh noticed that the Welsh players, all assuming that Giteau would take a kick at goal, had turned their backs on the Australian players. Waugh screamed 'quick tap, quick tap' to Giteau, and shortly after, the halfback was diving inside the corner post for a very sneaky try [Video: Giteau's lucky tap].
Then it all went wonky. Australia started giving away penalty after penalty. Wales kicked everything offered to them. Confusion reigned out wide with the expressive Welsh attack often causing problems, and suddenly early in the second half, Australia had lost their lead [Video: Wales strike back to take the lead].
They got it back though in the 63rd minute with the try of the game and one of the best seen for some time when fullback Latham, a justified man-of-the-match winner, produced a marvellous solo effort to score from the half-way line.
Wales kicked to Latham, who grabbed the ball near his ankles at fullpace, and then scampered along the sideline, running inside Welsh inside centre Gavin Henson, before straightening and sliding his way through two tackles to complete an inspired and courageous movement [Video: Chris Latham's solo try].
Wales once again rallied, levelling the scores, until in the 78th minute, Australia were given the ideal chance to leave Cardiff victors.
They had the scrum feed near the Welsh quarter line. A steady platform would have given Australia the opportunity for a field goal attempt to win them the game 32-29.
Instead the Welsh, like so many other recent opponents, were able to splinter the Wallabies scrum. Wales won the feed. The moment was lost [Video: Australian scrum smashed].
Connolly opted against targeting the Wallabies scrum, instead arguing that Australia failed to win because of other factors.
"We had numerous opportunities to put the nail in the coffin," Connolly said. "We had so many half-chances, gave away four penalties on the trot, which brought Wales back into the game, and then we made mistakes out wide. Probably the magnificent goalkicking by Wales was the difference. They kicked seven out of seven, and five of those were absolute screamers, while we missed three." [Video: Superb goalkicking keeps Wales in the game]
However Connolly was far from downcast. Not surprisingly the vibrance of the Australian attack had brightened his spirits.
"Matt Giteau had a pretty fair game. Mat Rogers tried very hard at five-eighth, and he'll get more confident as we go along. And Larkham did well directing play. I think they are genuine options in those positions. At times we played some pretty fair rugby today."
AUSTRALIA 29 (C Shepherd 2, C Latham, M Giteau tries; Giteau pen goal, 3 goals) drew with WALES 29 (S Williams, M Williams tries; J Hook 3 pen goals, 2 goals; S Jones pen goal; G Henson pen goal). Crowd: 73,158. Ref: S Walsh (NZ).
Source: Rugby Heaven (Sydney Morning Herald)