12:58pm Saturday 16th June 2012
By Chris Kirwan
WALES suffered last-gasp heartbreak in the second Test in Melbourne after replacement fly-half Mike Harris kicked Australia to a 25-23 win.
Just like in 2007, Wales were agonisingly close to beating the Wallabies on Australian soil for the first time since 1969.
On that occasion flanker Stephen Hoiles was the last-minute hero and today it was Reds number 10 Harris, who was called to the field when Berrick Barnes limped off.
New Zealand-born Harris kept his nerve after a Wallabies maul was ruled to have been dragged down, bisecting the posts from wide on the left to leave Wales once again reflecting on a golden chance gone begging.
Like in their first Test defeat, Wales were some way off their best in attack but they defended superbly and in full-back Leigh Halfpenny had a man who were ruthless from the kicking tee.
Australia headed into the break with a 13-7 lead after exploiting a faltering Welsh lineout to dominate possession.
The tourists made a dream start when George North finished off from close range following an impressive multi-phase attack in the Wallabies 22.
Halfpenny converted but the Aussies bossed the rest of the half and after Barnes had knocked over a pair of penalties the diminutive fly-half made a crucial break on the stroke of half-time.
He sped through a large gap between Sam Warburton and Ashley Beck before coolly finding centre Rob Horne on his shoulder with Barnes adding the extras to make it a seven-pointer.
However, Wales led early in the second half thanks to a mistake by last week's hero Will Genia, who passed to nobody inside the visitors' half.
The ball was hacked on by Beck and his midfield partner Jonathan Davies calmly collected and dived over the line.
Halfpenny converted and then traded a pair of penalties with Barnes, the last of which saw Wallabies wing Cooper Vuna yellow-carded, to make it 20-19 to the tourists entering the last quarter.
It was a golden chance to claim that elusive Tri Nations away scalp and the penalties kept coming, Barnes punishing a Bradley Davies infringement before Halfpenny secured three points thanks to a dominant scrum.
But Wales failed to exploit their one-man advantage and ultimately the Wallabies made them pay when they were back to 15.
Barnes, who had been struggling with a leg injury, shanked a simple penalty with five minutes left but Harris made no mistake at the death.
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