Wonderful Wales and Embarrassing England: The Story Of The Weekend's Rugby

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer INovember 29, 2008

After four weeks of autumn internationals, finally the Northern Hemisphere stood up against the Southern. Well, at least Wales did.

After impressing against South Africa, and not disgracing themselves against New Zealand, Wales had high, if optimistic, hopes for today's match against Australia.

They knew if they were to get anything out of the game that it would take a heroic effort. And that is exactly what they gave.

Shane Williams capped a superb week after being named the IRB International Player of the Year by scoring the first try, extending his all-time Welsh try record to 44.

Stirling Mortlock went off with concussion very early on, giving Wales the boost they needed to go on and inflict a first defeat on the touring Aussie's.

In addition to that Shane Williams try, Lee Byrne crossed over for the Welsh before half-time, after Australia's giant lock Mark Chisholm dashed 70-yards to score the first try of the match for the Aussies.

Prolific kicking as ever by Matt Giteau kept Australia in touch as Stephen Jones wasted a few good chances to keep the scoreboard ticking over. A late try from Digby Ioane set up a thrilling finish, but Wales hung on to grab a fantastic, and deserved 21-18 win.

England, on the other hand, were once again outclassed at Twickenham, as New Zealand capitalised on their indiscipline.

It was an improved performance from last week's debacle against South Africa, but Martin Johnson will need to use all his influence and experience to make sure England don't continue to throw away so many points.

They gave countless penalties away which, when you are playing against Dan Carter, is a recipe for certain defeat. Carter scored five of those penalties, and knocked over one conversion from Mils Muliaina's two tries and Ma'a Nonu's one.

Penalties from Toby Flood and Delon Armitage gave England their only points on the scoreboard as they crashed to the 6-32 defeat.

It means that New Zealand secure a grand-slam tour, only their third ever, and they have done so without even conceding a try.

If we have learnt anything from these autumn internationals, it's that the Southern Hemisphere teams are still dominant, and there may not be too many Englishmen in the 2009 Lions squad.