Oz spoil Williams's farewell

2011-12-03 18:36
Shane Williams (File)

Cardiff - Australia denied Shane Williams a winning send-off in the Wales wing's final Test before international retirement with a 24-18 victory at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

But the 34-year-old Williams, to the delight of a crowd of more than 61 000, had the last word when, with his final act in a Wales jersey, he scored a typically jinking try in the corner just before full-time as he extended his Welsh record to 58 tries in 87 Tests.

"I've had the best time of my life," Williams, fighting back tears, told the BBC before embarking upon a lap of honour.

"I'm sorry we could not win," added Williams, who will continue to play for the Ospreys, the Welsh regional side.

Reflecting on his Wales career, Williams said: "It's meant everything.

"Growing up as a child that's the only thing you want to do. I have been very privileged and lucky to have that chance. I've had the best time of my life.

"Every time I pull on this jersey it's the best feeling ever. I'm going to miss it."

This result made it four wins in a row for Australia over Wales, as they backed up their victory when the teams last met in the World Cup bronze final in Auckland in October, and extended the hosts' poor record against the Tri-Nations to just one victory in 16 Tests.

"We were made to work hard for it but the boys showed what it meant to them," said Australia coach Robbie Deans.

The game, played under a closed roof, changed when, with Wales 6-3 up early in the second half, home fullback Leigh Halfpenny was sent to the sin-bin and Australia scored 21 unanswered points while he was off the field.

"It's important we turned that to our advantage," said Deans. "If we hadn't, the Welsh would have grown an arm and a leg off it."

Wales took a sixth minute lead when flyhalf Rhys Priestland kicked a 40 metre penalty.

Shane Williams had to wait 13 minutes to get his first touch but, soon afterwards, he came across from the left wing to the right to help keep a Welsh attack alive.

But a promising move ended when centre Scott Williams dropped the ball short of the line.

Australia's James O'Connor, playing his first Test at flyhalf, then missed a straightforward penalty chance that would have levelled the game before Australia went close to scoring a try on the half hour.

After a surging run by fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper, centre Berrick Barnes's clever cross kick was gathered close to Wales's line by Wallaby right wing Lachie Turner.

But the 5ft 7in Shane Williams, once again showing his defensive worth, just did enough to force Turner into touch before he grounded the ball.

Priestland and O'Connor then exchanged penalties, both awarded for offside, to leave Wales three points in front at half-time.

Australia went close to a try early in the second half after a fine handling move saw O'Connor launch a counter-attack involving Barnes and Ashley-Cooper.

But after Barnes, involved for a second time, kicked ahead, O'Connor was tackled without the ball in sight of the line by Halfpenny and South African referee Jonathan Kaplan sent him to the sin-bin.

It was an expensive error, with Australia scrum-half Will Genia forcing his way over for a close range try which O'Connor converted.

O'Connor then missed a simple penalty, the ball hitting the post, minutes later but it hardly mattered.

It was O'Connor's excellent cut-out pass that sent Turner in for a try at the corner and he then made no mistake with the tricky conversion.

Wales were still a man down when Samo's pass found Barnes for Australia's third try, O'Connor again adding the extras.

The home side did staunch the flow of Australia points with their first try in the 66th minute after Priestland followed up after good work out wide by replacement forward Ryan Jones.

But Priestland's conversion attempt hit the post and Australia were still 24-11 in front before Shane Williams scored the try the crowd wanted.       



Tries: Rhys Priestland, Shane Williams
Conversion: Dan Biggar
Penalties: Priestland (2)

Tries: Will Genia, Lachie Turner, Berrick Barnes
Conversions: James O'Connor (3)
Penalty: O'Connor


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