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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 16:30 GMT
Wales 29-29 Australia
Wales prop Adam Jones (left) and Martyn Williams try to stop Australia fly-half Mat Rogers
Adam Jones and Martyn Williams combine to stop Mat Rogers

Wales 29 (16)
Tries: S Williams, M Williams.
Cons: J Hook 2.
Pens: S Jones, G Henson, J Hook 3.

Australia 29 (17)
Tries: C Shepherd 2, M Giteau, C Latham.
Cons: M Giteau 3.
Pens: M Giteau.

Wales and Australia played out the first draw in their history in a six-try thriller in Cardiff.

The Wallabies seemed set to avenge last year's loss when Cameron Shepherd and Matt Giteau claimed early tries.

But Wales hit back when Shane Williams and Martyn Williams went over, only for scores from Shepherd, again, and Chris Latham to bring the Wallabies back.

Wales needed a 71st-minute penalty from fly-half James Hook, who replaced the injured Stephen Jones, to seal a draw.

If the final scoreline was unsatisfactory for both sides, the match itself provided great entertainment for a capacity Millennium Stadium crowd.

Australia started fiercely and only some equally committed Wales defence kept the hosts' try-line intact.

606: DEBATE
GI

The endeavour earned an early penalty chance and Giteau, playing in the unfamiliar role of scrum-half, stroked over the kick from in front of the posts.

Wales got back on level terms as skipper Jones kicked a penalty after Rodney Blake failed to roll away from contact.

But Australia came roaring back as number eight Wycliff Palu barged his way through a hole in the Welsh alignment.

Giteau spread the ball left and Mat Rogers showed great hands, popping the ball out of the tackle to send Shepherd over, with Giteau adding the conversion.

After the Wallabies scrum disintegrated during last year's tour to the northern hemisphere, coach John Connolly had set about trying to fix the problem.

But early signs were not encouraging as the green and gold front-row collapsed under shunts from Wales props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones.

The penalty was out of fly-half Jones' range, but Gavin Henson made the distance look easy as the inside centre sent the ball sailing between the posts.

Having closed the gap Wales then gifted Australia a try, turning their backs on Giteau, assuming he would kick for goal, only for the scrum-half to tap and scoot over the line.

A fine conversion from tight on the right touchline rubbed salt into the wounds and stretched the lead to 17-6, although Giteau was just wide with a penalty kick soon after.

Young Wales fly-half James Hook is congratulated by lock Ian Gough
Young Wales fly-half James Hook is congratulated by lock Ian Gough

Wales received another blow when their skipper was forced off with a twisted knee, Ospreys youngster Hook replacing Jones at fly-half.

But Wales stopped the rot with a Shane Williams try created by a scything backline move.

Gareth Thomas held the drift defence with a dummy run, Henson bravely off-loaded as Lote Tuqiri flattened him, with Tom Shanklin and Kevin Morgan sending Williams over.

It was the little Ospreys winger's 27th try in his 40th Test, with Hook adding the conversion and then a penalty to bring a thrilling half of rugby to an end.

Having seen a commanding lead cut to a single point, Australia sent for reinforcements and old head Brendan Cannon replaced Tai McIsaac at hooker for the restart.

But it was Wales who struck again as rookie Hook, who had already caught the eye by up-ending Tuqiri, put the home side in the lead for the first time with a penalty.

Wallabies skipper Phil Waugh was trying to rally his troops by example, ferreting away in the loose, but for the first time in the match the visitors' play looked a little ragged.

That proved costly when a spilled pass allowed Shanklin to punt the ball upfield, sending Australia scrambling backwards.

Mat Rogers opted to try and cynically block the chasing Morgan instead of going for the ball, but Martyn Williams was on hand to gather and score, Hook again converting.

Yet back came Australia, making light of an injury that forced Stephen Larkham off, Tuqiri dragged down just short by Shane Williams only for Shepherd to go over for his second try.

Giteau's conversion brought the Wallabies back to within two points, and they regained the lead thanks to a piece of individual Latham brilliance.

The full-back took Morgan's loose kick and counter-attacked down the left touchline, outfoxing or outpacing attempted tacklers to score an unconverted try in the corner.

Hook tied the scores with his third penalty, after Australia prop Al Baxter was penalised for dropping a scrum, to leave it poised at 29-29 with 10 minutes left.

Australia were camped in the Wales 22, raising tension amongst the crowd to unbearable levels, only for a superb shunt by the home scrum to win back possession.

Neither side were able to muster one last chance to win it and referee Steve Walsh's final whistle ensured honours ended, perhaps deservedly, even.


Wales: Morgan; G Thomas, Shanklin, Henson, S Williams; S Jones (capt), Peel; Jenkins, Rees, A Jones; Evans, Gough; J Thomas, M Williams, R Jones.
Replacements: R Thomas, D Jones, G Thomas, Wyn Jones, Phillips, Hook, M Jones.

Australia: Latham; Rathbone, Tuqiri, Larkham, Shepherd; Rogers, Giteau; Baxter, McIsaac, Blake; Sharpe, Vickerman; Elsom, Waugh (capt), Palu.
Replacements: Cannon, Robinson, Chisholm, Hoiles, Valentine, Gerrard, Ashley-Cooper.

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand).

Att: 74,158



SEE ALSO
Pundits' verdict on Wales v Australia
04 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union
Wales v Australia photos
04 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union
Wales v Australia statistics
04 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union
Clockwatch: Wales 29-29 Australia
04 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union


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