Wallabies give Lions a reminder

The Wallabies showed the Lions just how tough a task they will face in two years' time as they claimed third place in the Rugby World Cup. [more]

Wallabies give Lions a reminder

The Wallabies showed the Lions just how tough a task they will face in two years’ time as they claimed third place in the Rugby World Cup.

Australia beat Wales 21-18 at Eden Park to bounce back from semi-final defeat to New Zealand last weekend.

Britain and Ireland’s elite head Down Under in 2013 and a Welsh victory on southern hemisphere soil would have been a big confidence booster for the Lions’ Dragons contingent.

But an early try from Berrick Barnes and a late score from Ben McCalman paved the way for a Wallaby win that, in truth, was well deserved.

Shane Williams and Leigh Halfpenny crossed for Wales, with the latter touching down for a sensational team score with the very last play of the game. But it wasn’t enough for Warren Gatland’s men who, just as in their final four defeat to France, were left to rue a series of missed kicks.

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"At this level you have to take your opportunities," said Gatland after James Hook endured a second successive off day with the boot.

"Unfortunately on these big occasions our goal kicking has let us down.

"If we look at the past those kickers who have been taking goals have been in the 80s (percent). James missed one almost in front of the posts tonight.

"It's pretty important in the scheme of things and it's probably what cost us."

Wales struggled at the breakdown due to the enforced absence of suspended skipper Sam Warburton as Wallaby openside David Pocock gave the future Lions management yet another reminder of his devastating abilities in the loose.

Barnes also showed his class in an outstanding individual display that started at centre and finished at fly-half after Quade Cooper hobbled off injured midway through the first period. Cooper suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage to his knee and faces at least six months on the sidelines but Barnes’ performances over the past seven weeks since recovering from a series of concussions will ensure the Wallabies will be in good hands even if Cooper doesn’t return in time for the three-Test series with the Welsh next June.

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