Wales vs. Australia: Re-Living 5 Famous Matches Between Countries

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 29, 2013

Wales vs. Australia: Re-Living 5 Famous Matches Between Countries

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    One of the illustrious international fixtures that stretches back more than a century, Wales and Australia have seen out some classic encounters in their time.

    Having first butted heads in 1908, the two titans of the game have since met on 36 occasions—the Wallabies winning 25, and Wales triumphing in 10 with one draw.

    This Saturday, the pair round off their November series with what looks to be an extremely promising matchup, with both nations hoping to extend recent winning streaks at the Millennium Stadium.

    Before that, however, let's look back at some of the most memorable matches between the two sides, with context of each meeting, drama and all-round excitement being the main criteria for selection.

5. 2011 Autumn International, Shane Williams Send-off

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    Following the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Shane Williams had initially made the decision to retire from international rugby but instead returned for one final encounter against Australia.

    As if written in the stars, the Welsh winger and all-time great scored with the last touch of the game, beating his man for pace with a jolting step, just as he had done so many times throughout his 11-year international tenure.

    Although Wales would lose the game regardless, this encounter was a close one for the most part, and what followed was an extremely emotional farewell speech from Williams.

    Will Genia, Lachie Turner and Berrick Barnes presented the tries for what was a very strong Wallabies side at the time, who were enduring a successful stretch of fixtures against the Welsh.

4. 2012 Wales Tour of Oz, Second Test

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    Drama to the very last second made the second Test of Wales 2012 tour of Australia an extremely tough pill to swallow at the time.

    Having lost the first Test 27-19, the Northern Hemisphere side needed a win in order to stay in with a chance of winning the series and looked like they could do just that up until the dying minutes of the game.

    It was in the 80th minute that late substitute Mike Harris stepped up to sweep home the agonising penalty that put the Wallabies two points ahead of Wales, securing his side a sixth consecutive win over the Welsh and wrapping up the 2012 series in the meantime.

    The sting of that kick was especially painful considering the visitors had outscored their hosts in terms of tries scored, with the boot of Berrick Barnes being their saving grace in the end.

3. 1987 Rugby World Cup Third-Place Playoff

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    In a time where Wales were enduring their most fruitful patch of form against Australia, the European team only just managed to hold off their Wallabies counterparts in 1987 but assured themselves of third place in that year's Rugby World Cup as a result.

    Tries from Dick Moriarty, Adrian Hadley and Gareth Roberts were enough to make sure the Welsh maintained superiority over their Australasian rivals for the time being, although not without an extremely late push of pressure from their opponents.

    A team largely inspired by the brilliance of players such as Jonathan Davies and Ieuan Evans was competing for the biggest honours in this period of their history, and it was as a result of grinding performances such as this that it was the case.

2. 2008 Autumn International Goes to the Wire

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    Wales weren't enjoying the best of Autumn international series in 2008, with their only win up until their clash against Australia coming against Canada.

    However, seemingly out of nowhere, the flair was turned on against Robbie Deans' side and the Welsh burst into life in front of their Millennium Stadium spectators, finding themselves 15-10 up at the halfway mark.

    Tries from Shane Williams and Lee Byrne were enough to ensure that Digby Ioane's score was insufficient, with the Wales star backs coming to the fore when they were needed the most.

    What followed was a long slog of a second period in which the Wallabies managed to outscore their hosts, but not by the margin needed in order to overturn the deficit.

    A late Stephen Jones penalty was prodded over in order to give Wales the cushion needed to go on and claim a 21-18 victory. The last-gasp onslaught of the Wallabies was not enough to edge out the win.

1. 2005 Autumn International, Wales End Winning Drought

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    Unfortunately, we were unable to find video highlights of the 2005 autumn international Test between Wales and Australia. The pair, as usual, ended their series with a head-to-head against one another.

    Not since 1987 had the Welsh claimed a victory over Australia up until this triumph—the previous 18 years having all gone the way of the Wallaby, and the majority of which actually came in Cardiff.

    However, as a sign that Wales were finally making their way back to titan status as a rugby nation, the Welsh—and not for the last time—would recover form a poor string of November results to come out with a win over Australia.

    A tremendous effort, trademark Shane Williams gave the Welsh the offensive boost they needed, and even though the Wallabies outscored the home outfit four tries to two, the precise kicking of Stephen Jones ensured that Wales hung on for the win.

    Lote Tuqiri and Chris Latham combined in the dying minutes to bring the Wallabies within just two points of their opposition, but the resulting conversion could not be slotted home. The Welsh heroes of Colin Charvis and Martyn Williams celebrated one of their toughest-fought defensive battles in memory.