Melbourne -Replacement flyhalf Mike Harris
calmly slotted home a penalty goal after the siren to carry Australia to
a pulsating 25-23 win over Wales in the second test on Saturday to seal
their three-match series.
Harris coolly kicked the ball over
from just under 30 metres but on a very tight angle at Docklands Stadium
after replacing Berrick Barnes, who had missed an easier penalty
minutes earlier, to put the Wallabies in front.
Barnes, who had
arrived in Melbourne only hours before kickoff after celebrating the
birth of his first child in Sydney, was nonetheless named man of the
match after compiling 17 points and setting up Australia's sole try to
Rob Horne a minute before halftime.
The Wallabies took a 13-7
lead to the break but survived a huge scare in the second spell as the
Welsh pushed desperately, only to be left heartbroken.
bemoaned their slow start last weekend at Lang Park, and appeared
desperate to make amends as they charged out of the blocks.
Winger George North snatched the ball out of a ruck on the try-line and
threw his hulking frame over by the right post to cap a period of
sustained pressure by the Welsh forwards.
The visitors then kept
the Wallabies scoreless for all but a minute of the first quarter
before conceding a penalty in front of the posts that Barnes booted over
from 30 metres.
Barnes, who has been forced to stand in in the
pivot role in the absence of a clutch of injured Wallabies, repeated the
effort from a much sharper angle 10 minutes before halftime to cut the
deficit to a point.
A shanked kick over the side-line gifted Australia possession shortly afterwards and the hosts punished the mistake.
Wales had spoken of targeting scrumhalf Will Genia and Barnes after the
pair combined strongly at Lang Park, but the same duo linked up to put
Horne over for the Wallabies in the 39th minute.
Genia speared a
30-metre pass outside to Barnes, who sliced through the Welsh line
before dishing off to outside centre Horne who cantered 30 metres to the
Australia repaid Wales the favour by handing them their
second try three minutes after the break, however, when a quick flick by
Genia found only open space.
The loose ball was booted forward
and outside centre Jonathan Davies won a thrilling sprint to the line,
deftly toe-poking the ball over before pouncing on it to bring Wales to
within a point.
Barnes and Leigh Halfpenny traded penalty goals
before winger Cooper Vuna left the Wallabies a man down for 10 of the
last 20 minutes after he interfered with Halfpenny catching the ball.
Halfpenny then nosed the Welsh in front 23-22 with his third straight
penalty goal before Barnes, who had been razor-sharp all night, wobbled
when handed a shot from in front of the posts from 40 metres, shanking
the kick wide.
The galling miss sparked a chain of panicky
fumbles from the Wallabies, with replacement lock Michael Hooper
spilling a pass to cut short a promising drive in the final minutes.
Australia never gave in, though, and mounted one last drive which
resulted in a penalty and Harris ensured Welsh disappointment once
Australia won the first match in Brisbane 27-19 and the teams play the third and final test in Sydney next weekend. Teams:
Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Cooper Vuna, Rob
Horne, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Will Genia, Wycliff
Palu, David Pocock (captain), Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, Rob
Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.
Substitutes: Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Nic White, Anthony Fainga'a, Mike Harris.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert,
Jonathan Davies, Ashley Beck, George North, Rhys Priestland, Mike
Phillips, Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Bradley Davies,
Alun Wyn Jones; Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (captain), Ryan Jones.
Substitutes: Richard Hibbard, Paul James, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, James Hook, Scott Williams.