Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Harris gets late penalty as Wallabies sink Wales and clinch Test series

Reuters, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Replacement flyhalf Mike Harris calmly slotted home a penalty goal after the siren to carry Australia to a pulsating 25-23 win over Wales in the second Test yesterday to seal their three-match series.

Harris coolly kicked the ball over from just under 30m, but on a very tight angle at Docklands Stadium after replacing Berrick Barnes, who had missed an easier penalty minutes earlier, to put the Wallabies in front.

Barnes, who had arrived in Melbourne only hours before kickoff after celebrating the birth of his first child in Sydney, was nonetheless named man of the match after compiling 17 points and setting up Australia’s sole try to Rob Horne a minute before halftime.

The Wallabies took a 13-7 lead to the break, but survived a huge scare in the second spell as Wales pushed desperately, only to be left heartbroken.

Wales had bemoaned their slow start last weekend at Lang Park and appeared desperate to make amends as they charged out of the blocks.

Winger George North snatched the ball out of a ruck on the try line and threw his hulking frame over by the right post to cap a period of sustained pressure by the Wales forwards.

The visiting Red Dragons then kept the Wallabies scoreless for all but a minute of the first quarter before conceding a penalty in front of the posts that Barnes booted over from 30m.

Barnes, who has been forced to stand in in the pivot role in the absence of a clutch of injured Wallabies, repeated the effort from a much sharper angle 10 minutes before halftime to cut the deficit to a point.

A shanked kick over the sideline gifted Australia possession shortly afterwards and the hosts punished the mistake.

Wales had spoken of targeting scrumhalf Will Genia and Barnes after the pair combined strongly at Lang Park, but the same duo linked up to put Horne over for the Wallabies in the 39th minute.

Genia speared a 30m pass outside to Barnes, who sliced through the Wales line before dishing off to outside center Horne, who cantered 30m to the line.

Australia repaid Wales the favor by handing them their second try three minutes after the break, however, when a quick flick by Genia found only open space.

The loose ball was booted forward and outside center Jonathan Davies won a thrilling sprint to the line, deftly toe-poking the ball over before pouncing on it to bring Wales to within a point.

Barnes and Leigh Halfpenny traded penalty goals before winger Cooper Vuna left the Wallabies a man down for 10 of the last 20 minutes after he interfered with Halfpenny catching the ball.

Halfpenny then nosed the Welsh in front 23-22 with his third straight penalty goal before Barnes, who had been razor-sharp all night, wobbled when handed a shot from in front of the posts from 40m, shanking the kick wide.

The galling miss sparked a chain of panicky fumbles from the Wallabies, with replacement lock Michael Hooper spilling a pass to cut short a promising drive in the final minutes.

Australia never gave in, though, and mounted one last drive, which resulted in a penalty, and Harris ensured disappointment for the Red Dragons once again.

Australia won the first match in Brisbane 27-19 and the teams play their third and final Test in Sydney next weekend.

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