Wales 40-6 Australia: Warren Gatland's side qualify for Rugby World Cup quarters and leave dismal Wallabies facing early exit
Gareth Davies, Nick Tompkins, Jac Morgan scored tries; Gareth Anscombe added 23 points (six penalties, one conversion, one drop-goal) after replacing Dan Biggar (pec injury) who could miss Wales' final pool game; Wallabies face crashing out of Rugby World Cup at pool stage for first time
By Michael Cantillon at Parc Olympique Lyonnais
Last Updated: 25/09/23 10:55am
Eddie Jones' Australia are teetering on the brink of a historic Rugby World Cup pool-stage elimination, after a dismal Wallabies performance saw Wales win handsomely 40-6 in Lyon to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Gareths Davies and Anscombe - the latter after coming on early for injury victim Dan Biggar (pectoral) - featured heavily in the victory, with the former a try scorer and the latter kicking 23 points in addition to a wonderful try assist for Nick Tompkins. Skipper Jac Morgan added a third Wales try late on too.
Wales built a 10-point half-time lead after Davies gave them the perfect start with a try in the third minute, and though Australia seemed to respond in the ascendency, the boot of replacement Anscombe ensured Warren Gatland's side wrestled momentum back to lead 16-6 at the break.
Australia out-half Ben Donaldson had kicked two first-half penalties, but the second half was a disaster for Jones' side - the Wallabies head coach booed heavily in the stadium each time he appeared on the big screens - as they were second best to near enough everything.
Wales 40-6 Australia - Score summary
Wales - Tries: Davies (3), Tompkins (48), Morgan (78). Cons: Biggar (4), Anscombe (49). Pens: Anscombe (21, 29, 39, 43, 52, 60). Drop-goals: Anscombe (70).
Australia - Pens: Donaldson (9, 14).
The Wallabies are now faced with exiting the competition at the pool stage for the first time in their history, unless Fiji - who spectacularly beat the Wallabies last weekend - slip up in both of their remaining Pool C matches against Georgia and Portugal.
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Rugby World Cup Pool C table
A lengthy Wallabies attack through 14 phases in the Wales 22 followed, but it came to nothing when prop Angus Bell knocked on by the posts. Having been playing on penalty advantage, Australia went back to kick three points through Donaldson.
Five minutes later, Donaldson kicked Australia within a point of Wales after a dominant scrum penalty, but they, shockingly, would not score again in the Test.
Anscombe had replaced Biggar just before that, and though he hit the post with his first effort off the tee in the 19th minute, he would only miss again on the night in the final minute, registering his first penalty points two minutes later after a strong Wales maul drive.
Australia turned down a certain three points moments later in favour of a kick to the corner, but it proved an awful call when captain and hooker Dave Porecki's lineout was overthrown, and Morgan's hacked clearance resulted in a 50:22 down the other end, paving the way for three more Anscombe points after a breakdown penalty.
A minute from the break, Anscombe added another penalty after Rob Valetini cheaply dived on a ball emerging from a ruck outside his 22, before Louis Rees-Zammit was almost in for a Wales try in dead time of the first half, only to be held up.
As in the first half, Australia began the second - surely the annus horribilis of 40 minutes in Australian rugby - by giving away a turnover inside the first minute: Richie Arnold being held up in a maul, and Anscombe then kicking a scrum penalty over.
Within seven minutes, 10 more points were added to Wales' lead as a further Anscombe penalty (scrum again) followed Tompkins' try, which saw Anscombe produce a gorgeously weighted kick ahead for his teammate to chase and land on.
Credit must go to Anscombe for the skill of kick, but also to Tompkins for the hunger and pace of his chase. It was a score, which though only 48 minutes in, essentially confirmed the result of the Test.
Another Wallabies breakdown indiscretion saw Anscombe kick three more points on the hour mark for a massive 32-6 lead, and with 10 minutes to go, the Wales fly-half cooly slotted a drop-goal too.
With two minutes left, Wales then rounded off their scoring as Morgan touched down at the back of a rolling maul which motored over the try-line, leaving Wales fans delighted, and Australian fans stunned as to the performance of their side.
Gatland: Life is about what you deserve, and we deserved to win
Wales head coach Gatland told ITV Sport...
"It was a pretty good performance. Their lines need to improve a little bit but that's okay. Life is about what you deserve and we deserved to win and I'm pleased with their performance.
"We ended up scoring three tries and the message at the end was to go for the bonus point but you can't be too greedy.
On Gareth Davies, Gatland said: "He's a fantastic individual. He's come back and shown how he can defend and what he can do in the game and we're fortunate we've got two quality nines, one more experienced than the other. Tomos [Williams] came on and gave us some zip.
"We're really fortunate and have worked really hard."
Biggar could miss Georgia match
The only downside in Wales' victory was Biggar's injury which Gatland later revealed could see him miss the team's final pool game against Georgia in two weeks' time.
"Dan has stretched his pec. I haven't spoken to the medics, but I spoke to Dan and they are saying it is probably a couple of weeks," said Gatland.
"We have got 13 days' break before we take on Georgia, so that potentially rules him out of that match, just to recover. It's not a significant injury, just a pec strain."
Wales next face Georgia on Saturday October 7, in their final Rugby World Cup Pool C game, at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes (2pm kick off BST).
Australia are next in action vs Portugal on Sunday October 1, for their final Rugby World Cup Pool C game, at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne (4.45pm kick off BST).