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Saturday, October 23, 1999 Published at 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK

Brave Wales dumped out by Aussies

George Gregan: Crosses for the first of his two tries

Wales 9-24 Australia

Australia have knocked Wales out of the World Cup in a gripping, but rain-sodden quarter-final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The BBC's David Parry-Jones: "For 80 minutes they stood toe to toe with one of the world's great teams'"
In what was a mighty confrontation, the sides were ultimately separated by the potent attacking skills of the Wallaby back line, which produced three tries - two for scrum-half George Gregan and one for wing Ben Tune.

Wales made the most of the awful conditions as the rain battered down in the first half, often keeping themselves alive through Australian handling errors and some audacious back play of their own. The ever-reliable Neil Jenkins kicked three penalties.

Wallaby warning

The score ultimately flattered Australia, who nonetheless deserved to win despite a flawed display.

Referee Colin Hawke awarded a highly-controversial try on the stroke of full time and showed lenience in his enforcement of the offside law, which Jenkins may well have punished under different circumstances.

[ image: Wales fired well in the lineout]
Wales fired well in the lineout
The Wallabies now face the winner of the England vs South Africa quarter-final at the Stade de France in Paris on Sunday.

Wales made the worst possible start in front of a raucous capacity crowd, bungling a clearance kick on five minutes and being turned over in the tackle on their own 22.

Gregan saw a gap and spun blind to Joe Roff, who penetrated to within feet of the home side's try-line before being hauled down. The wing popped the ball back up to his scrum-half, who piled over for the touchdown.

Wales roared back, winning a touchline penalty which Jenkins converted with inch-perfect accuracy. Wallaby fullback Matt Burke replied immediately to set the scores at 10-3 at the end of a breathless opening 10 minutes.

The middle of the half saw a rare period of Welsh continuity, with Shane Howarth conducting affairs from the back with his usual assured and unconventional style, repeatedly counter-attacking to cut holes in the Australian line.

Treacherous loose

Wales were rewarded with another Jenkins penalty on 20 minutes to narrow the gap to four points as heavy rain started to belt down.

The weather was a godsend for Wales, making the ball incredibly slippery and limiting the Australian attack.

[ image: Joe Roff gets the better of Scott Quinnell]
Joe Roff gets the better of Scott Quinnell
The Wallabies continued to pressure, but threw away a multitude of attacking positions through ill-discipline and some weather-induced handling errors.

Wales were rewarded with another penalty on half-an-hour to narrow the gap to a single point on 10-9.

Burke then missed two chances to restore the Wallabies' four-point advantage just ahead of the interval, sending the Welsh crowd into raptures as Hawke's whistle went for the end of the half.

The rain abated in the second half, but the greasy conditions remained. The ball ricocheted from one end of the pitch to the other as Wales repeatedly got out of jail through a host of Wallaby mistakes.

Ferocious five

The scores remained unchanged for the entire third quarter, before Australian fly-half Stephen Larkham, who kicked sublimely throughout the afternoon, finally broke the deadlock.

A deft tap-through from 30 yards out sent the ball skittering towards the Welsh line, with wing Ben Tune gathering and sliding over for the try. Burke converted for a 17-9 lead.

Suddenly, Wales were under the kosh as both Wallaby flanker David Wilson and Tune again crossed the line, only to be denied by early minor infringements.

Australia weathered a ferocious closing five minutes as Wales ran from depth and pounded at them in the forwards, then the Wallabies broke out for a score that they had repeatedly threatened all afternoon.

With nearly three minutes of injury time played, Tim Horan took the ball on the burst from Larkham and sprinted 40 metres before finally being brought down.

The centre appeared to knock-on in the tackle, but the referee ignored it and Gregan won the race to the ball as it rolled under Wales' posts.

Welsh players remonstrated with the officials, apparently indicating that wing James had been pulled back as he went for the ball. It was to no avail and the match finished with the disconsolate hosts under the sticks for Burke's successful conversion.


Wales: 15 Shane Howarth; 14 Gareth Thomas 13 Mark Taylor, 12 Scott Gibbs, 11 Dafydd James; 10 Neil Jenkins, 9 Rob Howley (captain); 8 Scott Quinnell, 7 Brett Sinkinson, 6 Colin Charvis, 5 Chris Wyatt, 4 Craig Quinnell, 3 David Young, 2 Garin Jenkins, 1 Peter Rogers.
Replacements: 16 Allan Bateman, 17 Stephen Jones, 18 David Llewellyn, 19 Mike Voyle, 20 Andrew Lewis, 21 Ben Evans, 22 Jonathan Humphreys.

Australia: 15 Matthew Burke; 14 Ben Tune, 13 Tim Horan, 12 Daniel Herbert, 11 Joe Roff; 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 George Gregan; 8 Tiaan Strauss, 7 David Wilson, 6 Matthew Cockbain, 5 John Eales, 4 David Giffin, 3 Andrew Blades, 2 Michael Foley, 1 Richard Harry.
Replacements: 16 Jason Little, 17 Nathan Grey, 18 Chris Whitaker, 19 Mark Connors, 20 Owen Finegan, 21 Dan Crowley, 22 Jeremy Paul, 23 Jim Williams.

Referee: Colin Hawke (New Zealand) )

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