Wales 12-14 Australia: Welsh Player Ratings

Kurtley Beale

15. Leigh Halfpenny – 8
A missed conversion on the stroke of half-time was the only blemish on Halfpenny’s brilliant afternoon. Rock-solid under the high-ball and incredibly courageous as the last line of defence, he also made the right calls with ball in hand, hitting the line sumptuously and chipping through to bring Wales agonisingly close to a try. Everyone with the Lions in mind should pray his nasty-looking neck injury is not too serious.

14. Alex Cuthbert – 6
Re-discovered his predatory instincts to give the hosts a cutting edge in the opening exchanges, but waned slightly as the game wore on. Still, strong under the high-ball, which bodes well for the inevitable aerial arm-wrestles that lie in wait during the Six Nations.

13. Jonathan Davies – 6
Won an important turnover with some brawny ruck-work in the first half, set Halfpenny through a gap and was largely untroubled in defence, but may have been at fault for slightly lateral running at the game got looser. Davies remains shy of his best, but not by much.

12. Jamie Roberts – 7½
Finally, the Cardiff Blues bruiser put an entire performance together, proving that his physicality is still tough to deal with, especially on defence. Let Adam Ashley-Cooper through early on, but mauled everything else that went near his channel.

11. Liam Williams – 6½
One of the few Welshmen that seems uninhibited against the best sides, perhaps Williams’ ignorance of the southern hemisphere giants is bliss. However, he manages; the new kid on the block has been very good this autumn, abrasive in all aspects. A nicely-judged punt to the corner displayed admirable nous, too, although it would have hurt to watch attackers flood past him for the clinching try.

10. Rhys Priestland – 5½
Excellent in parts, horrid in others, Priestland’s was a difficult showing to judge. Should definitely be applauded for battling his mental demons to produce moments of magic, notably setting Cuthbert clear twice and harrying after a couple of well-weighted up-and-unders. Lapses are lingering, though, such as some excruciatingly poor passing.

9. Mike Phillips – 5
With David Pocock back in the Wallaby fold, this was a match that Phillips could have influenced, using his frame around the fringes to suck in the Aussie openside. Sadly, the Welsh scrum-half was not at his sharpest, and compounded sluggish service with aimless kicking. Will be furious at failing to see the game out.

1. Gethin Jenkins – 5½
This was only disappointing because of the fading memories of how much Jenkins used to offer in the loose. Buoyed by a return to the starting line-up, he was adequate at set-piece despite a fold close to the start. Unfortunately, though, Toulon has softened a proud Lion.

2. Matthew Rees – 5
It feels quite sad to say this, but Rees’ presence is becoming a hindrance. Disastrous line-outs in crucial attacking areas were a sleight on the former skipper’s composure and he also conceded a soft penalty that allowed Kurtley Beale to open the scoring. Again shown up by a dynamic cameo from Ken Owens, but can be proud of shrugging off a violent hit from Wycliffe Palu.

3. Scott Andrews – 6
Not at all bad from Andrews, especially after Aaron Jarvis’ knee injury had the everybody in the Valleys fretting. Married solidity at scrum-time with a couple of decent rumbles.

4. Lou Reed – 5½
It was a shame Reed coughed up a couple of times. Aside from line-out woes and one clumsy penalty, he was a real handful for the tourists to contain, physicality at the breakdown causing a real nuisance. In trans-hemisphere ties, however, moments of naivety costs you dear.

5. Luke Charteris – 5
Rocked by Scott Higginbotham in one of the first forays of the match, Charteris manfully tried to re-join the fray and carried hard to give Wales a platform. Evidently not healthy enough to continue into the second period and was replaced by the infinitely industrious Ryan Jones.

6. Aaron Shingler – 6
Another good display from a selfless dirty-work merchant, this was encouraging overall, even if a needless penalty saw Beale put Australia 9-6 ahead and he was part of the calamitous line-out.

7. Sam Warburton – 6
It cannot be a fluke that the captain keeps getting on the wrong side of referees. Maybe even too exuberant for his own good, Warburton incurred the wrath of Wayne Barnes at the start, while Pocock timed poaches well. Even so, he remains the man to lead Wales away from this slump, as he showed through immense effort.

8. Toby Faletau – 6½
Clearly intent on an all-action afternoon after limping out of the June Test series in Australia, Faletau did not back out of a bone-crunching tussle with Palu, adding typical tenacity at ruck-time and careering into contact. One of Wales’ most skilful forwards, his link-play is also improving.

Replacements: Ryan Jones was the star here, and disrupted the Wallabies effectively by throwing his weight around. Once more, Ken Owens was an asset, while Justin Tipuric won one vital turnover. Hindsight might have meant giving Tavis Knoyle ten minutes, but we’d all be world champions with that power.

Australia: 15. Berrick Barnes – 5½, 14. Nick Cummins – 4½, 13. Adam Ashley Cooper – 7, 12. Ben Tapuai – 6½, 11. Drew Mitchell – 6, 10. Kurtley Beale – 6, 9. Nick Phipps, 6½, 1. Benn Robinson – 7, 2. Tatafu Palotu-Nau – 5½, 3. Ben Alexander – 6, 4. Kane Douglas – 6, 5. Nathan Sharpe – 7, 6. 7. David Pocock – 7½, 8. Wycliffe Palu – 6½.

Even in mind of their characteristic knack of landing unlikely victories, rarely can Australia have plundered a result from such a disjointed effort. Time and again Robbie Deans’ charges were indebted to their effervescent openside, David Pocock affecting some vital turnovers. Other than that, not much clicked. Adam Ashley-Cooper was typically sparky but inane punts from the boot of Berrick Barnes exposed a side devoid of many real ideas. That a triumph was finally pulled out of the fire said a lot for the Wallabies’ perseverance, a quality defined by one man.

As Nathan Sharpe led Australia out for the final time, he looked to the heavens, seemingly thanking someone upstairs for their help over an 116-cap career. About an hour and three-quarters later, the gnarled lock was lining up a conversion, boos ringing around the Millennium Stadium. He looked up again, this time with a grin. The jeers would have sounded musical, a winning send-off into retirement. That much was absolutely deserved. Congratulations, Sharpie.

By Charlie Morgan — @CharlieFelix

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8 comments on “Wales 12-14 Australia: Welsh Player Ratings

  1. For the first time, I’m convinced that Halfpenny is every bit as good as Rob Kearney and should start at 15. for the Lions, that is unless things change..He now seems to have the one thing I thought he lacked vs Kearney- ability to attack from deep with skill. Plus you get the added bonus of having an backup kicker on the field.

    Charlie, your ratings for Australia are a bit off, and it seems you don’t respect Wales. Wales lack mental composure in a few key positions but that’s about all they lack. Barnes and Beale deserve better scores than that, and I’m sure they were tired after a tough away series too.

    • Hello, Paul. Thanks for the comments. Largely stand by the Aussie ratings — Beale missed three straightforward kicks, ran laterally and looked, as you suggest, quite tired. He would have perhaps scored lower had he not popped up at the end to break Welsh hearts. Barnes maybe deserves half a point more — his tackle on Cuthbert and break at the end were impressive. However,there was a lot of inimaginative kicking, one which was followed up by an early tackle.

      As for not respecting Wales, I am not sure where you have concocted that. This is a side that has lost seven Tests on the bounce after a Grand Slam….their problems run slightly deeper than mental collapses. Sadly, reliance on reputation is one such area in my opinion.

      • I see your point Charlie, but how does a team lose 7 straight tests in a row against Australia (each by <7) if memory serves. Several by 1-2 points. That's mental imo. Lack of composure mentally or low self esteem to believe they can do it. I've seen them throw away games like confetti a few times now.

  2. Was one of the most crushing games I’ve ever seen. Think the ratings are fairly accurate, nothing I’d strongly object with. Completely agree with Matthew Rees and Gethin, it’s sad to see players who would have been considered some of the best in the world a few years consistently underperforming.

    I actually thought this was the best game Priestland has had in a while, and when he made the kick to touch near the end you could see how much it lifted his spirit. He needs a confidence booster, and I think it’s a bit naive that we’ve been forcing him into the side for so long now. I understand that Gats thinks he’s the future of the team, but assuming that’s true he still needs some time to get himself together off the pitch before he’s put in front of the crowds again. Let him regain his confidence at a regional level before going back to a national level.

    The Warburton comment is a good observation. He undoubtedly has the physical skill to get in there and win these balls, but he doesn’t have the intelligence at the breakdown to know when it’s appropriate. This was hugely apparent in the Wallabies game, but also in the stats highlighted before hand that showed McCaw and Pocock winning over 2 turnovers per match and Warburton getting 0.3.

    The biggest worry for me is losing Gats for the set up to the 6 nations. Haven’t got any faith in Howley as a head coach and he clearly doesn’t have the experience for the job. Why hasn’t Shaun Edwards taken the reigns?

  3. Can’t see us beating anyone this 6 Nations, and the IRB rankings are a reflection of our performances this Autumn – poor.

  4. Rugby union will always be an amateur sport as long as there are too many amateur referees and amateur officials in the game generally. I’ll be peeved if Wales are gifted another free win against us in game 1.. I don’t blame Wales, just Barnes – giving Wales the free penalty at the end. Wales had the chance to steal that game if Halfpenny converted – but didn’t – so it should have been left at that. He never gave Wales those kind of free breaks against Australia, so why against Ireland?

    It’s a beautiful game, it truly is. It’s just a shame it will never really achieve it’s potential with crappy referees, and that kind of reality check might have done Wales a favour. They might have been less likely to believe their own hype and just go out and win matches, rather than assuming they were just good enough to turn up and let the law of averages do it’s work in the the Australia tests. England mightn’t have needed a consolation win against the AB’s to rescue their series too late to escape from tier 2. But karma always balances out some where along the line one way or the other, and they’re both now in the group of death, and I know who I’m not backing going out in that group – Australia. If only referees could do their jobs impartially,objectively, and professionally.

    The one thing on my wish list for rugby union from the IRB between now and the WC, would be no more game rule changes period, and new referees, more accountability for referees, more rigid and defined practice with less shades of grey, and better referee training for new and existing referees. The only change I could tolerate to the game itself would be extra linesmen and video refs – but that’s not even change really, its just enhancement of refereeing.

    I just want to be able to watch ONE WC where everyone can say, the outcome wasn’t meddled with by officials and the best team won. You know there was at least some doubt about the SA vs. Australia game, and the Fra NZ game – final, and maybe the Wal v Fra game and others.. The organisers are going on about wanting to hold the best WC ever, and they could. London 2012 was a huge success. If they can have a really well refereed tournament, then they will get my vote as best! regardless of attendance, TV viewer numbers, and improving the popularity of the game elsewhere. How about improving the image of the game? That seems to me to be the best way to truly improve popularity, in real terms.

  5. I think Ireland need to look past the Wayne Barnes effect in the 6N game against Wales.

    With 75 mins gone, Wales waltzed up the pitch and scored a try in the corner through George North, going through 3 defenders. (1/2p missed conversion).

    Ireland kicked off, Wales received the ball on their 22 and waltzed up the pitch again to the point where Barnes blew the whistle.

    If Barnes hadn’t blown, whose to say Wales wouldnt have scored a try, or dropped a goal?

    Ireland lost that game because of their passive defense, EXACTLY how Wales lost to Australia on Saturday in those last 2 minutes. On both occasions the ground made should never have happened, both defenses should’ve been up and in the faces of the attacking team.

    You may feel cheated that the penalty was given, well we felt cheated when he disallowed a perfectly good Ryan Jones try in the first half.

    Incidentally, i feel Wales are now in a place where Ireland were during the 6N – playing players based on reputation! How good were Ireland v Argentina with the youngsters!! Gilroy looked immense. Lets hope Kidney will stick with them for the 6N and not revert back to the ‘reputation’ type players.

    If he does, i quite fancy Ireland to do some damage this 6N, although France are still my favourites to win it, based on autumn form.

  6. I actually thought Halfpenny wasn’t that good. His tactical kicking out of hand in particular was disastrous.

    Kicking it back every single bluddy time… seriously?

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