Australia v Wales media reaction as Gatland's men undone by 'familiar failings' and 'atrocious' discipline

-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd)
-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd)

Wales fell to a 25-16 defeat to Australia on their first match of their two-Test tour Down Under.

That means Warren Gatland’s men have lost eight matches on the spin.

There were positives to take - notably the performances of Ben Thomas at fly-half and Aaron Wainwright on his 50th cap - but the Wallabies ultimately proved too strong for the tourists.

Here is what the national media made of the match - both in the UK and in Australia.

The Daily Mail

Both these teams have fallen on hard times, not only in terms of their on-field performances but also with financial and sporting governance problems. Warren Gatland’s men went winless in this year’s Six Nations, but at one point it looked like they would end that barren run in the southern hemisphere.

Had Wales not had a second-half try for James Botham ruled out, a first victory in Australia since 1969 may well have occurred. But, in the end, Tom Wright’s brilliant effort sealed a Wallaby success in their first game under new head coach Joe Schmidt.

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The Times

Wales were undone by some familiar failings at the set piece, at both scrummage and lineout, as well as inability to make yards over the gainline in attack, where the likes of Australia’s No8 Rob Valetini were quite monstrous.

The Wales No8 Aaron Wainwright was magnificent too before limping off at the death, and a potent driving lineout, as well as some trademark relentless kick-and-chase work, kept them in the game, but Australia were the smarter and more incisive outfit as their new head coach, Joe Schmidt, won his first game in charge.

The Guardian

This was an undercard bout – ninth plays 10th in the IRB rankings – but both nations badly needed victory. In the 70th minute, Wales blinked first. Lynagh fielded a long kick and, instead of reefing it back, passed long. Wright cut through and raced away.

Even at 25-16, Australia weren’t safe. Last year they had blown it at the death against both Argentina and the All Blacks to set off the doom spiral that finished them in France. Like fire ants the brave Welsh swarmed into Australia’s half and stayed there. But Valetini stood tall, launching a series of rattling tackles. Somehow the gold wall held.

It was far from perfect by Australia but after the hell of the past 12 months, it was a victory sweeter than most. Given the brief preparation, new blood on show and the courageous decision to omit players defecting to NRL or playing overseas, Schmidt will be happy and so will his team. Better yet, so will long-suffering Wallabies fans.

The Sydney Morning Herald

In Joe we trust. The Joe Schmidt era got off to a winning start on Saturday when the Wallabies scored some soul-enriching revenge on Wales in Sydney.

Up against the nation that humbled the Wallabies at the World Cup, and ended their tournament, the hosts steamed home with a 25-16 victory to continue Wales’ losing streak in Australia dating to 1969.

It was an imperfect performance from the Wallabies, but after the heartache of 2023, it was a perfect tonic - for players and fans alike.

A buzzing crowd of 35,945 turned up to see the Wallabies play for the first time under Schmidt, and in a stop-start game made difficult by a slippery ball and two teams in desperate need of a win, it was a sizzling Tom Wright try that sealed the deal.

The Wallabies won’t be getting carried away, however, with the discipline and handling of an inexperienced Wales side mostly atrocious. It consistently released pressure on the hosts.

The Telegraph

Lift-off then for Joe Schmidt’s Australia, with his young side containing seven new caps including fly-half Tom Lynagh coming out on top in a bit of a scrap with a similarly raw Wales team.

As Schmidt noted afterwards “we’re all a bit frustrated that we didn’t play as well as we would have liked”, but they were superior to Wales in several key areas particularly the scrum, with the power of Taniela Tupou, and also in attack with their talented back-three cutting through for tries by Filipo Daugunu and Tom Wright.

It was not all bad for Wales. Archie Griffin, the young Bath tighthead, deserves recognition for an impressive 26-tackle display while playing for 74 minutes and coming up with an excellent turnover as well. Ellis Bevan at scrum-half produced an excellent 50:22 kick to give Wales welcome territory - they just were not able to make the most of it. Flashes of promise, but not enough for Wales to stop this losing run which has now stretched to eight Tests. “Unfortunately resilience doesn’t win games, does it?” the captain Dewi Lake said afterwards. Sadly not.