Gordon named Man of the Match as Wallabies begin 2024 Test Season with victory over Wales in Sydney

Mon, Jul 8, 2024, 2:58 AM
Waratahs Media
by Waratahs Media
NSW Captain Jake Gordon alongside 2025 Waratahs team mate Andrew Kellaway.
NSW Captain Jake Gordon alongside 2025 Waratahs team mate Andrew Kellaway.

The Wallabies have kicked off their 2024 campaign with a 25-16 victory in front of 35,945 fans at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, with NSW Waratahs Captain Jake Gordon named Man of the Match.

It was a tight and torrid battle for most of the game, with Australia just keeping their noses in front throughout, however the game was blown open by Tom Wright in the 68th minute with a scintillating long range solo try that saw Australia extend their lead to the match-winning margin.

One try each in the first half saw the teams go into the break with Australia up 13-10, before Filipo Daugunu and Wright scored spectacular tries in the second half to get the home side a valuable win in their first Test of the year, and their first under new head coach Joe Schmidt.

Schmidt was pleased with the effort of his squad in the three-tries-to-one victory, having only had his team together for less than two weeks.

"A win is really important, and it always is because that's what you get judged on externally but internally, I think some of those moments that we did really well to earn that one, that'll be the focus for us this week building into Melbourne," he said.

"We have a few things that are a little different from how teams have played in Super Rugby so the adjustment time for that to become second nature is inevitably and going to take time.

"Hopefully, it can take 'til Tuesday and we can be really good at it...we'll leave that at the moment and focus on what's in front of us."

It was a tense encounter as both sides opted to take early penalties, with the Australians starting strong.

An early break to Andrew Kellaway signalled their intentions as the Wallabies looked to apply pressure on the ill-disciplined Welsh.

It eventually paid off in the 20th minute with strong running from the forwards delivering the opening try to Taniela Tupou for a 13-3 lead.

In a case of double jeopardy for the Welsh, prop Gareth Thomas was sent for ten after a string of penalties.

The numbers would be levelled shortly afterwards when Wales was awarded a penalty try for a collapsed maul, with flanker Fraser McReight the man sin-binned for bringing it down on the line.

The Wallabies went to the sheds up 13-10, but Wales went straight back on the attack as they kicked their way inside the Wallabies’ 22 early in the second half.

Ben Thomas levelled the scores via penalty but a dropped kick-off presented the opportunity for the Wallabies, and Daugunu took the opportunity, sprinting through a gap and sliding backwards over the line to see the Wallabies in front again, 18-13.

Wales fought hard for a response, denied twice as a desperate ankle tap from Jake Gordon stopped a promising Aaron Wainwright break before the Welsh were initially awarded a rolling maul try before it was disallowed for obstruction.

The Wallabies had their own chances, with a cross-field kick to Kellaway just out of reach, and smart kicking from Wales presented an opportunity for Thomas to reduce the gap to two points with 15 minutes to go.

Up stepped Tom Wright, who produced some magic from his own half, speeding through the line before twice stepping off his right foot to beat the cover defence and dive over to score.

The Welsh continued to throw everything at the Wallabies' line in the final minutes, however Australia’s defence held firm to secure the victory.

Debutants Isaac Kailea and Charlie Cale came up with big moments to halt momentum, with McReight lethal over the breakdown, allowing the home side them to close out the Test match.

Both sides head to Melbourne next week for the second Test at AAMI Park on Saturday 13 July.

WALLABIES 25 (Tries: Tupou, Daugunu, Wright, Conversions: Lolesio, Lynagh, Pen Goals: Lolesio 2) defeated WALES 16 (Penalty Try, Pen Goals: B.Thomas 3)