12:10am Monday 25th June 2012
By Iwan Davies
YOU are probably as sick of reading about Wales’ sob stories as I am of writing about them after they bombed yet another gilt-edged chance to take a southern hemisphere scalp.
You may come across some reports harping on how brave Wales were, so cruelly denied by bad luck or the refereeing of Craig Joubert in Saturday's 20-19 defeat.
But I’d take it all with a pinch of salt. Don’t believe the hype and all the meaningless platitudes. They can keep their tales of woe.
The world is full of hard-luck stories and the sorry truth is that Wales have only got themselves to blame for losing this series 3-0.
Sure, they might even have won it 3-0. But they didn’t and that’s the end of it.
Tell it to the judge or look up the record books.
The shame is, this Australia team isn’t actually very good and they were mediocre at best on Saturday.
But their World Cup quarter-final victory over South Africa showed just how good they are at scenting out wins, that success over the Boks one of the biggest acts of daylight robbery in rugby history.
It’s the worst Wallabies team for some years, as we might find out when they take on the World Cup champions New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina in the new Rugby Championship tournament.
Wales’ indiscipline, naivety, lack of composure, inconsistent lineout, poor and conservative selection all added up to them losing this Test match.
Mr Joubert’s pedantic refereeing brought back unpleasant memories of Irish official George Clancy at his very worst, but don’t point fingers at him.
Blame caretaker coach Robert Howley for failing to make the big decisions that came back to haunt him at the weekend.
Blame outside-half Rhys Priestland, who should have been dropped after a poor series and Six Nations, his good form in the World Cup but a distant memory.
Why wasn’t Wales’ in-form No 10 Dan Biggar at least taken to Australia?
Blame hooker Matthew Rees, too, who should have had the chop. I would never consider selecting a No 2 who can’t be trusted to throw the ball in the lineout. To compound matters he also butchered a three-on-one overlap.
And why didn’t Wales have lock Ian Evans, even on the bench? It’s all quite perplexing. Wales’ Grand Slam lock had postponed his honeymoon and flown halfway around the world to be rewarded with a midweek game against the Brumbies in Canberra.
What’s that all about? Was he being punished for deciding to get married at a time that coincided with the three-match series?
At the moment he is twice the player Bradley Davies is.
Wales had gone into a 63rd- minute lead after number eight Ryan Jones had powered over for the game’s first try after a borefest had seen Barnes and Leigh Halfpenny trade penalties.
But their lack of bottle was soon evident when they allowed Wallabies centre Rob Horne in for the softest of tries to regain a 17-16 lead.
But Wales had gone back into the lead after Halfpenny’s fourth and final penalty and were almost immediately given prime position with just eight minutes left to go.
Kurtley Beale had given them a golden chance of closing the game out when he put his foot in touch in his own 22 in fielding a kick.
The world-class full back had a poor game after being rushed back too soon by coach Robbie Deans after his shoulder injury saw him miss the first two Tests and Scotland’s victory over the Wallabies earlier in the month.
Wales won the lineout, no mean feat for them, but with some characteristically schoolboy play, their forwards clearly obstructed as they protected the ball and attempted to rumble towards the Wallabies’ try-line to administer the killer blow.
The Wallabies’ captain, David Pocock, looked incredulously at the ref, who duly penalised Wales.
Alun Wyn Jones had an untypically poor game and his replacement, Luke Charteris, did his team and himself no favours after he gave Mr Joubert the back-chat an under-9s player would be ashamed of.
The official added another ten metres. Nice one, Luke.
Australia went downfield and a few phases later their outside-half Berrick Barnes was lining up an easy penalty which supplied the coup de grâce.
Wales had turned victory into defeat yet again after they had blown the second Test 25-23 by conceding a last-minute kickable penalty.
You have to admit Wales are getting pretty good at it.
Replacement outside-half James Hook, who has been mugged around senseless by Wales over the last four years, nearly stole the show but his chip ahead in the dying minutes rolled into touch with the Wallabies’ line at his mercy.
* Comment: page 14
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