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Antipodean hex haunts Wales


Wales' apparent win was sabotaged at death by the green-and-gold assassins, writes Oliver Brown.

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

It was a climax of the grimmest vaudeville. Nathan Sharpe, Australia's departing captain, was shaping up to strike the final meaningless conversion, even though this giant lump of second-row bulk had most likely never taken a kick in his life. He smiled at the irony of it all, as tens of thousands of Wales supporters streamed down the stairwells and out into the Cardiff chill, desolate that their players' apparent march to victory should again be sabotaged by the assassins in gold and green.

A numb silence pervaded the Millennium Stadium, as the crowd digested the full grisly impact of Kurtley Beale's stunning last-minute try. It is as if some Antipodean hex hangs over this Wales side: in their last three Tests against Australia, they have lost by the cumulative total of five points.

None of the defeats was as agonising as this, though, as the atmosphere evaporated from the arena as rapidly as helium from a punctured balloon.

The turmoil of Welsh emotion could not be distilled easily. For 79 minutes and 31 seconds they had Australia under control, and even in the frenetic concluding phases it appeared that Leigh Halfpenny had made a match-saving tackle.

But in a late flurry the Australians spun the ball wide to release Beale, who dived over in the corner and silenced the triumphant home chorus with devastating finality.

Even the Herculean Halfpenny had to be taken from the field on a stretcher after his abortive tackle on replacement Dave Dennis. The challenge was uncomfortably reminiscent of the one with which he had hit David Strettle in the final act of Wales' last Six Nations victory over England. That, too, ended in the full-back being knocked out.

Halfpenny was in hospital last night: a harrowing postscript to one of his finest performances in the scarlet jersey. Supported by the effervescent Rhys Priestland, who despite recent criticism broke through the line at will, the 23 year-old had been instrumental in pinning Australia back until their last-gasp salvo.

Wales were looking more purposeful, more dangerous than they had all autumn.

So no wonder Sam Warburton called this the hardest, most demoralising loss he had ever suffered. "It felt like the day we were definitely going to do it," the captain reflected. "We felt like we had done it. Whether it's a matter of composure at the end I'm not sure, but it seems like a situation we have been in too many times before." Quite. At 24, Warburton has had the fortune to savour more sunlit days, not least the Welsh Grand Slam coronation on this very stage just nine months ago. But this signalled the culmination of three weeks to forget. Wales were, to use a little transatlantic parlance, 'oh-and-four' for their autumn series - even it might more accurately be summarised as 'oh-and-dear'.

Few could ever have predicted, given their all-conquering Six Nations display, that they would be brought to such a low ebb so soon. The disciples in red had desperately craved a more cathartic ending, to head into the depths of winter with the fillip of vanquishing Australia.

But they were denied even this consoling flourish, on a day when they also absorbed the knowledge that England were beating New Zealand. The stadium announcer at least had the good grace to contrast that shocking news with Wales' sevens win in the Gulf.

"England 15 New Zealand 0," he intoned at half-time, gravely. "Meanwhile, better news from Dubai ..." It was the first day of the festive shopping season and yet the 58,000 souls exiting the stadium, seemed distinctly short on good cheer.

Last weekend hundreds of jobs were lost at a Port Talbot steel plant, and now the province's sporting pride and joy found themselves on the wrong end of a Test series whitewash, sealed by betes noires Australia with one last kick in the teeth.

Happy Christmas, Cardiff

The Telegraph, London

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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
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45Leicester City Stadium
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
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
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
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
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
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
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
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
View all

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