There was plenty of debate heading into Wales’ Rugby World Cup match with Australia over who was the favourite to take out the game, but there’ll be no questions now over who is more likely to take home the William Webb Ellis Cup home come November.
It was a dominant display from the Red Dragons, right from kick-off, with Dan Biggar nailing a drop goal within a minute of kick-off – setting a World Cup record.
Once again, however, refereeing decisions came under much scrutiny from players, commentators and fans alike.
Entering the second quarter, a late tackle by Michael Hooper on Biggar was given a second look by referee Romain Poite and the TMO.
Hooper had plenty of time to back out of the tackle and also led with his shoulder, but it was only the first issue that the referees focussed on. Ultimately, Poite felt a penalty against the Wallabies was sufficient punishment for Hooper’s hit – something which Hooper seemed bemused by.
Fans certainly thought a yellow card was warranted and took to Twiter to vent their frustrations:
Refereeing at this world cup has been terrible. That was at least a yellow, late shoulder charge by Hooper. PS: Wales means business. #AUSvWAL
— Wessel van Rensburg (@wildebees) September 29, 2019
— Innes Macleod #FBPE #Remain ????????? (@InnyDMac) September 29, 2019
Minutes later, Hooper played an integral role in Australia’s first try of the match, winning a penalty for his side at the breakdown from which the Wallabies were able to launch a scything attack.
Shortly after, Adam Ashley-Cooper became the oldest Australian to dot down at a World Cup, latching onto a pinpoint kick from flyhalf Bernard Foley.
Five minutes before half time, another refereeing call left many perplexed.
Wallabies midfield blockbuster, Samu Kerevi, was penalised for defending himself with a raised fist when charging forward with the ball into Rhys Patchell. Patchell had only recently entered the fray after Biggar left the field for an HIA.
Hooper criticised Patchell for his upright tackling technique, but Poite was not especially interested.
— 10 Sport (@10SportAU) September 29, 2019
The first half ended 23-8 in Wales’ favour, courtesy of tries to Hadleigh Parkes and Gareth Davies.
A second drop goal – this time to Patchell, who had stayed on the field as a permanent replacement for Biggar – built Wales’ advantage further, and ensured that even a late fightback wasn’t enough for the Wallabies to take the game.
First Dane Haylett-Petty and Hooper dotted down, then flyhalf replacement Matt To’omua nailed a straightforward penalty – but that was to be Australia’s final points of the game.
Come the 80th minute, Wales stood tall as victors, 29-25.
It was a heroic effort from Wales and will likely give them a somewhat easier path to the finals – but the game will almost certainly be talked about for all the wrong reasons, an issue which has marred this World Cup to date.
Wallaby Reece Hodge was absent from the match, thanks to a three-week ban – but fans aren’t buying his excuses:
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