Wales ran out with the spoils, surviving a late Wallabies comeback attempt, who were inarguably the better team for the final thirty minutes of the match.
But Wales won’t care.
A humdinger of a contest. Here’s how we rated the players.
1. WYN JONES (SCARLETS) (16 CAPS)
His first Rugby World Cup and the 27-year-old looks to the manor born. Scrummaged well.
2. KEN OWEN (SCARLETS) (68 CAPS)
3. TOMAS FRANCIS (EXETER CHIEFS) (44 CAPS)
Having struggled in the scrum against Georgia, the giant Exeter Chiefs prop need a big game, and he worked his heart out all day.
4. JAKE BALL (SCARLETS) (38 CAPS)
Ball brings 124kg of heft to the Welsh engine room, and a big opening carry helped set up Biggar’s dropgoal. Outshone by Captain Fantastic today but that’s no slight.
5. ALUN WYN JONES (OSPREYS) (130 CAPS) (CAPT)
A landmark occasion for Wales’ newly minted most capped player, in truth his performance was more workmanlike than heroic – which is not a criticism. A brick wall in defense, with Wales’ highest tackle count with 20 to his name.
6. AARON WAINWRIGHT (DRAGONS) (14 CAPS)
The risk Gatland took to start three opensides in the backrow paid off in parts, with all hands needed on deck to counter the breakdown productivity of “Pooper” and co. He played his part, tackled like a dervish and carried competently when he had to.
7. JUSTIN TIPURIC (OSPREYS) (67 CAPS)
Tackled like a rabid sheepdog and fought tooth and nail with Pocock and Hooper for everything on the deck. The breakdown was a warzone and he was at the coalface.
8. JOSH NAVIDI (CARDIFF BLUES) (21 CAPS)
Maybe not quite as explosive or powerful a carrier of the ball to warrant selection at No.8, but as usual the Cardiff Blue brought plenty to table elsewhere.
9. GARETH DAVIES (SCARLETS) (45 CAPS)
A well-read intercept snuffed out an early Australian move in 7th minute. Another inspired one was rewarded with a try before half time. Nearly got a third in the 50th minute. A few missed tackles were the only blot in his copybook.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 29, 2019
10. DAN BIGGAR (NORTHAMPTON SAINTS) (74 CAPS)
Struck early with a dropgoal in the second minute, but missed a difficult penalty attempt three minutes later. Found Parkes with a sublime crossfield kick for Wales’ first try, which he converted. Didn’t return after a HIA.
11. JOSH ADAMS (CARDIFF BLUES) (15 CAPS)
Busy, but you can’t but feel he needs more involvement on the ball. Has a nasty tendency of falling off tackles too.
12. HADLEIGH PARKES (SCARLETS) (20 CAPS)
Took his try brilliantly, wrestling the ball midair from the clutches of Samu Kerevi. Fell off a few too many tackles and was largely in prophylactic mode in the secondhalf.
13. JONATHAN DAVIES (SCARLETS) (78 CAPS)
Lucky to get away with an embarrassing attempted tackle on Kerevi in the 27th minute, a cover tackle saving his blushes. Not his best day in a red jersey but he won’t care.
14. GEORGE NORTH (OSPREYS) (88 CAPS)
Although Australia contained him relatively well early doors, he made significant inroads up the pitch with each successive carry.
15. LIAM WILLIAMS (SARACENS) (60 CAPS)
Mixed the masterful with the mediocre. Still, plays with the swagger of a man who treats the highest level of competition in the sport as if it were his front room.
16. ELLIOT DEE (DRAGONS) (24 CAPS)
Came on for Owens, but as a unit the frontrow deteriorated in the latter stages, heaping pressure on their teammates.
17. NICKY SMITH (OSPREYS) (32 CAPS)
Came on in the 48th minute. Came on as a replacement in Wales’s RWC 2019 opener against Georgia and will happy with the game time afforded him here. That said, Wales’ scrum didn’t improve in the final quarter, and the replacement frontrow unit need to take ownership of that.
18. DILLON LEWIS (CARDIFF BLUES) (17 CAPS)
Came on late for Francis. As above re-scrummaging issues.
19. AARON SHINGLER (SCARLETS) (21 CAPS)
Replaced Jake Ball with 15 minutes to go. Was part of a pack of replacement forwards that were in panic mode for a few minutes. Hard to rate.
20. ROSS MORIARTY (DRAGONS) (36 CAPS)
Replaced Wainwright in the 58th minute, and brought a bit of bite and helped played his part as an irritant on the other side of the ball.
21. TOMOS WILLIAMS (CARDIFF BLUES) (11 CAPS)
Energetic. The former sevens international was up for the fight.
22. RHYS PATCHELL (SCARLETS) (15 CAPS)
Bullied at times by the Wallabies defense. For a 6’3 flyhalf, he gets absolutely battered at times. Kicked monster a penalty after in 36th minute. Played his way into the game and ultimately left his critics with little to chatter about and plenty to praise.
23. OWEN WATKIN (OSPREYS) (17 CAPS)
Made his World Cup debut in an absolute cauldron, but not on long enough to rate.
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