Rugby Union


Wallabies steal last-gasp win

WALLABIES back Mike Harris kicked a penalty from close to the sideline after full-time to steal a 25-23 victory from Wales in a heart-stopping affair in their Test in Melbourne last night.

Wales looked to have secured its first win on Australian soil in 43 years but a penalty for collapsing a maul in the final seconds gave replacement Harris the chance for glory.

The visitors showed their trademark fighting spirit as the lead changed hands nine times at Etihad Stadium. But the loss meant a James Bevan Trophy series victory for Australia, which took out the first Test in Brisbane last week.

New Zealand-born Harris, playing in only his second Test, said he was excited to be given the opportunity to win the match for his side.

''It's a kicker's dream to be able to win the game,'' said the Queensland Reds player, who missed two long-range kicks in atrocious conditions in his recent debut against Scotland.

Australian coach Robbie Deans said the composure shown by his team was a sign of its growing maturity. ''Fortunately the boys had enough composure when they were under the pump at the death there to get their hands on the ball one more time, produce some pressure and produce an outcome,'' Dean said.


He said he knew the Welsh would be in it at the end.

''They're an 80-minute side, they're very much a second-half side so you've got to work the full 80,'' Deans said.

Wales coach Rob Howley said his team had done enough to win.

''I thought our defence was outstanding,'' Howley said.

''For 79 minutes and 40 seconds we'd done a lot of good. We were hugely disappointed having outscored Australia two tries to one.''

Welsh skipper Sam Warburton said his team should have kept the ball in hand rather than kicking it away in the final minute to give Australia possession and a chance of a penalty.

New dad Berrick Barnes looked to inspire the Wallabies to wrap up the series after making it back to Melbourne just a few hours before kick-off and he was named man of the match.

The flyhalf dashed home to Sydney late on Friday to be at the birth of his first child - a son, Archie.

Barnes set up the Wallabies' only try of the match just before half-time when he threw a superb dummy before offloading to a rampaging Rob Horne.

He also added 17 points through five penalties from six attempts and a conversion before being replaced by Harris with seven minutes remaining.

Wallabies rookie Cooper Vuna, playing only his second Test, made a costly blunder when he took out Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny in the air and was yellow-carded.

Halfpenny kicked that penalty which put his side ahead at the 60th minute 20-19.

Wales started both halves on fire, scoring within the opening three minutes of each.

While he had an excellent game, Barnes made a poor start when he kicked the ball out on the full from outside his team's 22.

Wales then piled the pressure on the home side and, after eight phases hammering the Wallabies defence, winger George North found a hole to plant the ball across the line in the third minute of the match.

The Wallabies threw everything at the visitors as the clock wound down and looked like they would have to settle for a loss, with the series to be decided in Sydney next Saturday.

But then Harris stepped up to nail the kick and break Welsh hearts. AAP