Wallabies win Pool of Death

Australia claimed top spot in Rugby World Cup 2015's infamous Pool A thanks to a 15-6 victory over Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

The result means that Wales must now face South Africa in next Saturday's quarter-final while the Wallabies will take on Scotland next Sunday at the same venue.

It result also extends Wales' long losing streak against Australia to 11 matches, dating back to 2008.

Much has been made of Australia's attacking ability at this World Cup but their defensive effort was at the heart of this victory. They were outstanding, even keeping Wales out with two men in the sin-bin for seven minutes in the second half.

A cagey first half ended with Australia leading 9-6, which was probably a fair reflection of the opening 40 minutes, with very little to choose between the sides.

Wales were first on the scoreboard via a Dan Biggar penalty after an excellent start that saw George North almost get over in the corner, only to be held up.

The Welsh fly-half was on the receiving end of a rib-tickler from Sean McMahon and Sekope Kepu won the Wallabies a scrum penalty to stave off the early pressure from the men in red. 

Wales enjoyed the lion's share of possession and territory to still lead 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the Aussie scrum was in dominant form, earning a penalty for Bernard Foley to level the scores. 

Australia were on top in the much-anticipated breakdown battle too – with Scott Fardy showing he too can be a threat on the deck – and Foley put them ahead on the half-hour mark, only for Biggar to reply from over 40 metres after Stephen Moore had conceded an extra ten – bringing the penalty within range – for preventing a quick tap.

Taulupe Faletau gave away a soft penalty, kicking the ball from Will Genia's hands, to allow Foley to put Australia back in front. 

A second offside penalty against the Wallabies meant that Biggar could have again made it all square on the stroke of half-time, but his effort was just wide.

Matt Giteau's effort from inside own half after the hooter fell short, so the Wallabies led by three at the half-time break. 

Foley doubled the gap early in the second half after Faletau was spotted taking Fardy around the neck, but the game reached a critical period when Genia was sent to the sin-bin for cynically killing the ball.

Dean Mumm soon joined him for playing the man in the air at a lineout, leaving the Wallabies with 13 men on the park. 

Faletau had been denied a try by the TMO in between those cards and twice more the Welshmen were held up over the line in a brilliant defensive display by Australia, as the Wallabies held firm.

A counter-attack sparked by Israel Folau led to Foley slotting his fifth penalty, putting the Wallabies out of reach.  

After that a yellow card to Alex Cuthbert for a deliberate knock down when Australia were threatening to score in the dying minutes killed off hopes of a Welsh comeback. 

Foley missed the shot at goal, but the Wallabies sealed off the result in clinical fashion.

Man of the match: A handful of candidates for both sides but we'll go for Scott Fardy, who was one of his team's top tacklers with 11, played a key role on the ground and provided a reliable option at lineout time. 

Moment of the match: Not so much one moment but an extended period when the 13-man Wallabies kept the Welsh at bay. 

Villain of the match: No nasty stuff to report.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Foley 5
Yellow Cards: Genia, Mumm

For Wales:
Biggar 2
Yellow Card: Cuthbert

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Sean McMahon, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c) 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Kurtley Beale

Wales: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 George North, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Tom Francis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 James Hook

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

by Ross Hastie at Twickenham