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Fighting spirit earns high praise from Deans

WALES 12 AUSTRALIA 14

Buzzer beater ... Kurtley Beale dives to score the match-winning try with 20 seconds left on the clock.

Buzzer beater ... Kurtley Beale dives to score the match-winning try with 20 seconds left on the clock. Photo: AP

CARDIFF: A relieved Robbie Deans praised the Wallabies for refusing to ''turn their toes up'' against a desperate and dominant Wales in the dying minutes of their final Test of the spring tour.

The Wallabies trailed Wales 12-9 for the final 20 minutes of the match before a last-gasp gamble on running rugby sent five-eighth Kurtley Beale galloping down the sideline to secure a two-point win and three-from-four record on their European tour. Deans said he was proud of the team for fighting until the end, despite making it difficult for themselves with three missed penalty kicks and countless wasted opportunities.

''For the group to find a way to win in the 80th minute against one of the best-conditioned teams in the world, away, knowing there's a holiday coming … they could easily have turned their toes up but it's a great trait they're developing, they just kept coming, looking for a way to win,'' he said.

He missed ... Nathan Sharpe prepares to take the conversion attempt in the final act of his Wallabies career.

He missed ... Nathan Sharpe prepares to take the conversion attempt in the final act of his Wallabies career. Photo: Getty Images

Veteran captain Nathan Sharpe, who retired on Saturday night after 116 Tests in a 10-year international career, was at the bottom of a ruck when Beale scampered down the right flank and missed all but the grounding of the ball. But Sharpe was intimately involved in the tactical shift that had momentum swing back Australia's way for the first time since the opening stages of the game.

''We decided to go wide and have a crack, there was only a couple of minutes left, it would have been ridiculous if we just put it out,'' he said. ''We wanted to have a go wide, we played a few phases there, we knew Wales were tired.''

Wales coach Warren Gatland was cool in his assessment of the Wallabies' performance, saying they played ''a lot of territory'' rather than ''rugby''. Sharpe sensed the same stalemate and set about breaking it.

Australia's fly half Kurtley Beale scores a try in the final seconds. Click for more photos

Beale's try to savour as Wallabies down Wales

The Wallabies score in the final 20 seconds to snatch victory from Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photo: AFP

''The game had just got to that point where every time we got in their half there was a penalty conceded or every time they got in our half, there was a penalty conceded,'' he said. ''It wasn't a free-flowing game. That was the issue in the back of my mind. Three points wasn't going to be good enough, that would have just been a draw. The boys did a great job.''

The win changed little for the Wallabies, rankings-wise. They will be confirmed at third behind South Africa and New Zealand for the 2015 World Cup draw on Monday, while Wales sit in the third tier of nations.

Deans said he was looking forward to a break after what he said was, ''without a doubt'', the toughest year of his coaching career. Injuries to key players, off-field dramas and a hectic schedule were among the challenges.

But the Wallabies would be stronger for it leading into the three-Test British and Irish Lions tour in seven months' time, Deans said.

''We've been through the wringer and we've come out the other side much better for it,'' he said, adding that the turnover of coaching staff midyear was an added challenge.

Deans was presented with a new team - assistant coach Nick Scrivener, scrum coach Andrew Blades and coaching co-ordinator Tony McGahan - in time for the June Tests.

''I think the way we've worked together has been good, under trying circumstances. It would have been a lot easier if we'd had continuity, but we didn't,'' he said. ''But we'll be better for that because with that comes an awful lot of interaction, an awful lot of discussion, conversations with different coaching staff, coaches to players, coaches to management.''

Sharpe enjoyed his final game in the gold jersey. He had not taken his boots off when he fronted for media duties afterwards and said he would wear them for as long as he could.

''I am just proud of the group, you know, to come over here and get a result like that when we only played well in patches,'' he said. ''There were a lot of times when we made it very hard for ourselves with penalties and ill-discipline around the ruck, and the like … [but] there's ways to win, and if you keep putting it out there, sometimes you'll get there.''

Much like the Wallabies' season. Unpolished, patched together at times, but never lacking character.

73 comments so far

  • Seven full minutes of aerial ping-pong to open the second half. Missed penalties. One try in 80 minutes. I think my heart just cracked 200 bpm!

    Commenter
    Rylo
    Location
    Kenthurst
    Date and time
    December 02, 2012, 5:50AM
    • Rylo, if you sum it up with those statistics then you missed what was actually a pretty exciting game I thought.
      Wales created so many excellent chances, the Wallaby defence, particularly Barnesy's cover defence was up to the task. Sure there were some poorly executed kicks again - this is a recurring theme for the Wallabies, but they stuck it out - a lot of the penalties were due to excellent defence from both teams. We also created some good opportunities which we weren't able to finish off too, but Wales are a better team than their ranking and recent results suggest - winning the 6-nations in a grand slam is no easy feat.
      One criticism I can't explain away is Phipps at 9. Surely there is a better #2 ranked halfback in Australia?!?! A lot of the Wallabies attack is stifled by his poor target selection and worse passing game.

      Commenter
      KB
      Location
      kbourke88@gmail.com
      Date and time
      December 02, 2012, 11:46AM
    • this was probably the most boring game of rugby I have ever seen; how anyone could call it exciting is beyond me. Just because a match is close does not mean it is good. All the penalties, kicks and just all round terrible play, by both teams, made for a game that was excruciating to watch.

      Commenter
      charlieboz
      Date and time
      December 02, 2012, 6:14PM
    • The only thing worse than the Wallabies (and Wales) was the bigoted commentary team. One red eye!

      Commenter
      IanM
      Location
      Malaysia
      Date and time
      December 02, 2012, 11:13PM
  • Fantastic support play by Beale at the end, Br Anthony will be proud of you mate.

    Commenter
    Catinthehat
    Date and time
    December 02, 2012, 6:22AM
    • Agreed. Ran past about 3 or 4 Welsh players to get there - great angle/timing, perfect.

      For once happy stayed up to watch! Epic...

      Commenter
      OscarP
      Location
      Brsvgs
      Date and time
      December 02, 2012, 6:38PM
  • Sharpey thanks for all the memories you have been a great servant for Australian rugby!

    Commenter
    Ferdy
    Date and time
    December 02, 2012, 7:02AM
    • Thanks Sharpie !
      Well done and all the best for the future as you've been a credit to the game.

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      December 02, 2012, 10:35AM
  • The Wallas keep finding ways to win - they deserve all the plaudits coming today. Deans for a lifetime contract?

    Commenter
    PJ man
    Location
    NSW
    Date and time
    December 02, 2012, 7:33AM
    • Lifetime contract? It seems he's been at it for a lifetime already and not good enough. Lets have an Aussie coach,then we might beet the All Blacks.

      Commenter
      Tom
      Location
      Qld
      Date and time
      December 02, 2012, 9:11AM

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