Australia v Wales: Sam Warburton desperate to avoid whitewash
Sam Warburton insists Wales will try their utmost to avoid a 3-0 series defeat by Australia in their final Test in Sydney
Sam Warburton promised Wales will respond in their final Test in Australia after a late collapse saw the tourists suffer a 25-23 defeat on Saturday.
The loss in Melbourne was particularly demoralising for Warburton’s side as Australia now hold an unassailable 2-0 series lead going into the third Test in Sydney.
“We’re not the sort of players to put our heads down and not front up again next week,” said Warburton.
“We’ve always shown character and the result will probably drive us and motivate us even more to ensure we get a result. I don’t think it will be hard to lift the players.
“We don’t want to get on the plane home losing the series 3-0 as we know we don’t deserve it and we’re much better than that. We’re desperate to get a scalp out here.”
The Welsh began the game in aggressive fashion with powerhouse winger George North barreling over uncharacteristically from close-range after some strong phase play.
However, Australia were able to reassemble and grind their way back into the contest through the ever-dependable boot of stand-in Wallaby fly-half Berrick Barnes, chipping away at Wales’ early lead.
With the end of the first half approaching, Barnes was on hand again, sparking an opulent attack to send centre Rob Horne over for the hosts’ first try as he ghosted past Welsh centre Ashley Beck.
Wales caretaker head coach Rob Howley will have rued this defensive lapse as the score came at a crucial time as the two teams headed down the tunnel.
However, Llanelli Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies was able to grab an opportunist try and put Wales back ahead at the start of the second half, showing great composure and footballing ability to touchdown after chipping ahead.
This score, along with Leigh Halfpenny’s metronomic boot on this tour, was essential to preventing Australia gaining a head of steam and running away with the contest.
Wales were gifted a prime opportunity to build up a lead themselves when Australia winger Cooper Vuna was sin-binned for a reckless challenge on Halfpenny while catching a ball mid-flight.
But the tourists only managed to gain a three-point advantage in this ten-minute period and they will look back on that as the key moment where they could have won the game.
Wales’ inability to punish the southern hemisphere side is becoming something of an all too familiar sounding story and the longer it takes them to clinch that elusive victory, the harder the mission will become.
Unlike England, Wales’ problem does not lie with superior opposition but more with their vulnerability after they score. They surrendered their lead as soon as they had gained it time and time again in this match.
Wales should have won this match but for Matt Harris’ superb extra time penalty, and next week they must make sure they gain the win they deserve and channel the pain of losing the opening two Tests into a consolatory victory in Sydney next week.