Sun, Jun 03, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Gregan helps Aussies to beat Wales


Welsh player Chris Czekaj cries out in pain after breaking his leg during the match against the Wallabies in Brisbane, Australia, yesterday.


George Gregan returned at scrumhalf to ignite a stuttering attack in the second half and guide Australia to a 31-0 win over Wales in yesterday's second rugby Test.

After snatching a 29-23 win in last week's first Test with a last-minute try in Sydney, the Australians had a 6-0 lead after an error-strewn first half in Brisbane.

It was no coincidence that Australia's resurgence coincided with the return of Gregan behind the scrum, restoring the Wallabies' most enduring halves pairing with Stephen Larkham and pushing Matt Giteau from No. 9 to his favored spot at inside center.

With a world record 129 Test caps, Gregan's direction behind the Australian pack was telling and it allowed the Australian backline to fire against a diminished Welsh defense.

Digby Ioane scored a try on debut to kickstart Australia's scoring spree after half-time.

The 21-year-old received the ball and sprinted 30m to finish a long-range try for the Australians in the 44th minute.

Left wing Drew Mitchell outpaced the cover in a 40m burst after Gregan went the shortside from a Wales' turnover in the 59th minute to increase the lead to 22-0.

In the 64th, fullback Julian Huxley took an inside ball from Gregan 42m out, found space, chipped and regathered to cross for his first Test try.

Captain Stirling Mortlock finished with four penalties -- including the only points of the first half -- and two conversions for a 16-point haul.

Ioane had a big impact in the second half, also making a try-saving tackle on Aled Brew after James Hook intercepted a Giteau fumble and started a long-range counterattack -- Wales' best try-scoring chance.

The Australians dominated possession and were intent on spreading the ball wide from the start, but wasted opportunities with six turnovers and a succession of basic errors in the damp conditions.

Wycliffe Palu made some good ground, including a damaging run into the quarter off a well-timed inside ball from Larkham just before half-time, but was felled in a try-saving tackle by Colin Charvis and Australia turned the ball over.

Palu made some more productive inroads in the second half and earned man-of-the-match honors.

Hook missed a shot from directly in front for Wales' best scoring chance in a first half that only added to the casualty list for the touring squad.

Right winger Chris Czekaj broke his right leg in a Stephen Moore tackle in the 22nd minute, bringing Gavin Henson on at fullback.

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