Flying Wallaby: Australia's Kurtley Beale launches himself over the try line to break Welsh hearts. Photo: Getty Images
Wales 12 Australia 14
A RELIEVED Wallabies coach Robbie Deans praised his team 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 before a final gamble on running rugby sent five-eighth Kurtley Beale galloping down the sideline to secure for Australia a two-point win and their third victory from four games on their European tour.
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
Deans said he was tremendously 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,'' he said.
''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.''
Captain Nathan Sharpe, who retired after the match following 116 Tests spread across 10 years, was at the bottom of a ruck when Beale pelted down the right flank and missed all but the grounding of the ball.
But Sharpe was intimately involved in the tactical shift that saw 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,'' he said. ''There was only a couple of minutes left, it would have been ridiculous if we just put it out.
''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's performance, saying they played ''a lot of territory'' rather than ''rugby''.
Sharpe sensed the same stalemate and set about breaking it.
''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,'' Sharpe 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 confirmed that the Wallabies would finish third in the rankings, behind South Africa and New Zealand, for the World Cup draw on Monday.
Deans said he was looking forward to a break after what he said was ''without a doubt'' the toughest year of his coaching career.
Serious injuries to key players, off-field dramas and an enlarged 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 ringer and we've come out the other side much better for it,'' he said, adding that the turnover of coaching staff mid-year was an added challenge.
Assistant coach Nick Scrivener, scrum coach Andrew Blades and coaching co-ordinator Tony McGahan joined the coaching team just before the June internationals.
''I think the way we've worked together has been good, under trying circumstances,'' he said. ''It would have been a lot easier if we'd had continuity but we didn't.
''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 had not taken his boots off when he fronted for media duties after the game and said he would wear them for as long as he could.
''I am just proud of the group, 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.''