Wallabies edge out Wales in Cardiff

PA Sport
Shane Williams
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Shane Williams

Wing wizard Shane Williams bid an emotional, try-scoring farewell to international rugby - but he could not prevent Wales from suffering more pain against Tri Nations opposition as they lost 24-18 against Australia.

It was a red-letter occasion for Williams three months short of his 35th birthday as he led the team out to an inevitable standing ovation and wore a specially-commissioned shirt with the word "Diolch" - Welsh for thank you - emblazoned across his chest.

The tearful Ospreys star's last Wales appearance - his 87th - produced a trademark try with his final act in the red shirt to send a 62,000 Millennium Stadium crowd wild, but Australia had already done enough for victory.

Second-half tries by scrum-half Will Genia and wing Lachie Turner - scored in quick succession after Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny had been sin-binned for tackling James O'Connor without the ball - were followed by a Berrick Barnes touchdown.

The damage was inflicted during a ruthless 12-minute spell when Australia erased all hope of Wales avenging their World Cup bronze medal match defeat in Auckland just 43 days ago.

O'Connor kicked three conversions and a penalty, while Wales could only muster tries from Williams and Rhys Priestland, two Priestland penalties and a Dan Biggar conversion.

In 16 games against Australia, New Zealand or South Africa since coach Warren Gatland took charge three years ago, Wales have claimed a solitary success.

And in 46 Tests during rugby union's 16-year professional era, the Tri Nations heavyweights have now claimed a combined total of 42 wins against Wales, drawing one and losing just three.

They are statistics that will continue to haunt Gatland as Wales begin building towards the 2015 World Cup, although next on their agenda is a concerted tilt at Six Nations silverware.

Williams will no longer be part of Gatland's plans, and even though Wales could not give him a winning send-off, he can bow out as a true Welsh rugby legend in the company of yesteryear superstars like Gareth Edwards, Barry John and Gerald Davies.

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