Wales romped into the quarter-finals of the World Cup with a record 40-6 victory over Australia on Sunday that left the twice-world champion Wallabies heading for a pool stage exit for the first time.
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Scrumhalf Gareth Davies, centre Nick Tompkins and flanker Jac Morgan scored tries with replacement flyhalf Gareth Anscombe banging over six penalties, a conversion and a drop goal to give the Welsh a third win in three Pool C matches.
The Wallabies lacked nothing in endeavour but made too many mistakes and were outclassed by a streetwise Welsh side, who backed their defence, managed the game expertly and ruthlessly exploited their chances.
“I thought today was an outstanding performance,” said Wales coach Warren Gatland.
“We just grew into the game and got better. I thought we were pretty clinical in a lot of areas. They never really threatened us from an attacking perspective, which was very pleasing.”
Eddie Jones’s young team, who managed only two early Ben Donaldson penalties, still have a mathematical chance of getting into the knockout rounds but would need Fiji to lose at least one of their last two pool matches against Georgia and Portugal.
It was Australia’s heaviest defeat in a World Cup match and took their record since Jones took over for the second time in January to one win and seven losses.
“First of all, I want to apologise to the people of Australia,” Jones told reporters.
“Our performance wasn’t up to the standard required. I take full responsibility. I haven’t done a good enough job.”
Jones said he remained committed to the job of reviving Australian rugby despite reports that he had interviewed for the job as Japan coach last month, which he denied.
The Wallabies could not have made a worse start to a game they had to win to keep their campaign afloat after a first loss to Fiji in 69 years last week.
They were penalised at the first breakdown and a try down in under three minutes after Morgan burst through the midfield and offloaded for Davies to score.
Australia immediately tested the Welsh defence through multiple phases and came away with a Donaldson penalty in the ninth minute and another in the 14th as the result of a dominant scrum.
Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar had injured a pectoral muscle in an early tackle and was replaced by Anscombe, who missed his first attempt at goal but nailed the next three to extend the lead to 16-6 at halftime.
Anscombe added another penalty just after the break then chipped a lovely ball over the top of the Australian defence to send Tompkins in for the second Welsh try and extend the lead to 20 points with 48 minutes on the clock.
The Wallabies scored 26 unanswered points in a comeback win over Wales in Cardiff last November but there was to be no repeat in Lyon.
Anscombe drilled two more penalties in the 52nd and 60th minutes and then, with Wales going through the phases without making much progress, slotted a drop goal with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Flyhalf Carter Gordon, dropped for the match but on as a replacement, summed up Australia’s night when he tried to kick for touch in the 75th minute only to send the ball out behind the goals.
With the Welsh crowd favourite “Hymns and Arias” echoing around OL Stadium, there was still time for Wales to roll a maul over the line and give Morgan a well-deserved try.
“The crowd was amazing, it’s fantastic to see all that red in the crowd,” said Morgan.
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