WAYNE PIVAC had the look of a man who knows he will be packing his bags, as his Welsh team blew a 21 point lead against the injury-ravaged Aussies.
Wales led 34-13 with just over twenty minutes to go – but they fell apart in the final quarter to sound the death knell for Pivac’s three year reign as national coach.
Wales were left stunned as Australia mounted a late comeback in CardiffPA
GettyWales blew a 21-point lead to lose 39-34 at home[/caption]
There is surely no way Pivac will be involved in the World Cup renewals.
But he remained defiant, clutching to the positives from the first hour as two tries from the rampaging Jac Morgan, scores from Taulupe Faletau and Rio Dyer, and 14 points from the boot of Gareth Anscome gave Wales a seemingly unassailable lead.
Pivac looked as shell-shocked as the fans who booed him and his team at the final whistle, saying: “We got everything we wanted in the first hour, but couldn’t quite finish them off.
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“But I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I was the right man to coach this team, and of course I want to stay on. And that’s probably enough on that.
“I think we showed we can be a dangerous team ,and we have players to come back. And when the heat is on me, at least it protects the players.”
Ignore all that. Pivac was already considered a ‘dead man walking’ before this amazing collapse. The last rites will surely be administered by the WRU in the coming days.
Things started badly – before getting much worse – as Wales full back Leigh Halfpenny suffered a back spasm in the warm-up, and had to be replaced by Josh Adams.
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GettyJac Morgan put Wales in control with two tries[/caption]
GettyTaulupe Faleteau also went over on his 100th game[/caption]
Australia struck first with the first of two early penalties from Ben Donaldson. But with human wrecking ball Morgan leading the way, Wales tore into the Wallabies.
For the first time there were also a few clever offloads and behind the back passes to admire – several of them coming from veteran lock Alun Wyn Jones.
His pass to Morgan gave the flanker a yard of space, and he barrelled his way over the line, taking several Australia defenders with him.
Faletau then dived over near the corner flag, and with Anscombe adding both conversions and a couple of penalties, Wales were in dreamland. leading 20-6.
GettyThe Aussies launched an extraordinary comeback to clinch victory at the death[/caption]
GettyThe pressure is now building on beleaguered boss Wayne Pivas[/caption]
Australia hit back with hooker Folau Fainga’a touching down from a lineout drive, and Donaldson added the extras.
But with scrum half Jake Gordon and prop Tom Robertson picking up yellow cards either side of half time, the Wallabies were briefly down to 13 men.
Rhe home team took advantage, driving Morgan over for his second try and creating the space for Rio Dyer to score out wide.
Two more conversions from Anscombe meant Wales had topped thirty points for the first time in 45 matches against the Australians.
At 34-13, it should have been game over. But it is never a foregone conclusion where Wales are concerned.
Skipper Justin Tipuric was sin-binned for a cynical trip on Pete Samu and replacement hooker Ryan Elias was also shown a yellow for collapsing a maul as the Dragons were reduced to 13 men themselves.
Elias’ indiscretion brought a penalty try, while Wallabies wing Mark Nawaqanitawase scorched across twice to cut the deficit to two points – and replacement hooker Lachlan Lonergan’s 78th minute try completed an incredible turnaround.