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Kiwi gets Wallabies home


New Zealand-born Mike Harris is an Australian forever thanks to a penalty after the siren that got the Wallabies home last night, writes Greg Growden.

Australia 25 Wales 23

The Wallabies celebrate Rob Horne's try at the end of the first half.

The Wallabies celebrate Rob Horne's try at the end of the first half. Photo: Getty Images

Emblazoned on the billboard outside the Welsh Church in the middle of Melbourne yesterday were the words: ''God shows no favourites. But this church does … C'mon Wales.''


Not surprisingly in a city where sport is a religion, Melbourne churches have a long tradition of pushing smart footy-oriented messages - the most famous being some decades ago when a small church near Glenferrie Oval had on its board: ''What would you do if Jesus Christ came to Hawthorn today?''

Rob Horne dives in to score.

Rob Horne dives in to score. Photo: Getty Images

Underneath it someone scrawled: ''Move Peter Hudson to centre-half forward.'' (For those not obsessed with AFL, and there are some, Hudson, the king of Hawthorn, was probably the code's greatest goal-kicking full-forward.) At Etihad Stadium last night, the gods were certainly not on the side of the Grand Slam Six Nations champions when they suffered the agony of losing by just two points in extra time when a Mike Harris penalty goal allowed the Wallabies to take the most dramatic, exciting of 2-0 Test series leads against a quality opposition. At least no one had to move anywhere to accommodate a messiah. But there were still plenty of attention-seeking naughty boys.

There was tension, aggression, players like Wallabies winger Cooper Vuna sent to the sin bin for ridiculous acts, the high drama of man of the match Berrick Barnes having to rush back from Sydney after the birth of his first child to get to the game on time, and then the tension of his replacement, Harris, having to kick the final penalty to win the game. The Wallabies had it won, then they lost it when they bombed numerous attractive chances in the final minutes, and then won it again with a penalty awarded after the bell. They were stunned as anyone that they were victors.

Barnes, on the most special of days, had kicked 17 points from five penalties and a conversion until his leg went dead. He then missed one, which looked as if it would lose the Wallabies the game, when now hobbling, he was replaced by Harris, who was up to the big moment.

The Wallabies celebrate winning the Test. Click for more photos

Wallabies snatch victory over Wales

New Zealand-born Mike Harris kicked a penalty goal after the siren to seal a two-point win over Wales. Photo: Getty Images

The unusual tone of this match was set early. Infuriated by how much space Will Genia and David Pocock had to perform their magic tricks in Brisbane, the Welsh immediately attacked the fuse box with a sledgehammer. The Welsh forwards didn't take 25 minutes to find their stride, as was the case at Suncorp Stadium, but broke through the barrier and were straight into it, pushing play in the Wallabies quarter to score within minutes following several pick and drives.

That was the important he-man moment, to remind the Wallabies just how good they were, and then it came down to Wales attempting to slow everything down, especially at the breakdown, forcing Genia to fight for the ball rather than having silver service. The Welsh squeeze worked. For a long time the Wallabies were unable to excite the scoreboard attendant. The Wallabies still had plentiful possession in the first half, but there were no gargantuan gaps to take advantage to. They now had to rely on patience, constantly changing their attacking lines, and probing here and there. But they knew if they just stuck at it, something would come, and it did in the 39th minute, when Barnes swivelled the hips and snuck in between Welsh captain and flanker Sam Warburton and centre Ashley Beck. He then timed the pass beautifully to that marvellous finisher Rob Horne, who once again completed the assignment to give the Wallabies a 13-7 half-time lead.

Eventually Genia had to make a mistake. It occurred straight after the break when a Genia pass after a lineout aimed at Digby Ioane instead fell into no man's land, allowing opposing centre Ashley Beck to boot ahead and midfielder Jonathan Davies to regather to once again give Wales the ascendency.

Digby Ioane attempts to break the tackle.

Digby Ioane attempts to break the tackle. Photo: Getty Images

Then came an exchange of penalty goals, with the lead changing virtually every second minute.

The Wallabies, via Barnes and Harris, won that kick-off to be victors of a special Test match, full of spice and stardust. One that will be remembered for years.

AUSTRALIA 25 (Rob Horne try Berrick Barnes con Barnes 5, Michael Harris pens) bt WALES 23 (Jonathan Davies, George North tries Leigh Halfpenny 2 cons 3 pens) at Etihad Stadium. Referee: Chris Pollock. Crowd: 33,888.

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
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NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
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SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
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FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
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NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
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ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
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SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
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IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
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TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
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FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
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SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
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IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
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CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45Leicester City Stadium
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SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
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ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
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ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
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Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 3 0 3 0 -49 0
Uruguay 2 0 2 0 -107 0
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Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
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New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
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France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Canada 3 0 3 0 -71 1
Romania 2 0 2 0 -61 0
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