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Wales deny Australia clean sweep
Wales overcome Wallabies as All Blacks secure grand slam victory over England.
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2008 18:07 GMT

Wales full back Lee Byrne goes for a high ball [GALLO/GETTY]
Flyhalf Stephen Jones rounded off a fine year for Six Nations champions Wales by steering them to a 21-18 victory over Australia at the Millennium Stadium.

Jones booted 11 points to add to first half tries from World Player of the Year Shane Williams and Lee Byrne as Wales became the only northern hemisphere team to beat a Tri-Nations side this year.

New Zealand beat a hugely improved but still undisciplined England side 32-6 to complete their third grand slam of the home unions and first without conceding a try.

The All Blacks patiently withstood early pressure from a side that initially appeared to have learned their lessons from last week's record 42-6 loss to South Africa, before taking advantage of needlessly conceded penalties and scoring two tries in the last 22 minutes by Mils Muliaina.

Wales triumphant

The Wallabies went over twice through lock Mark Chisholm and wing Digby Ioane and flyhalf Matt Giteau kicked eight points with a penalty, a brilliant drop goal and conversion.

Wales, who had won just once in Australia's previous seven visits, had lost narrowly to world champions South Africa and New Zealand in earlier tests in the November series.

Coach Warren Gatland said: "I'm really proud of our performance...We played a lot of really good rugby and thoroughly deserved to win.

"Hopefully we can mature over the next couple of seasons into a really good side," he said.

Australia were chasing their first European clean sweep since 1996 following wins over England, France and Italy this month.

Disappointed Australia coach Robbie Deans said: "It's never enjoyable to come second in a test match...There was obviously not much in it."

Chisholm of Australia dives over to score his team's opening try [GALLO/GETTY]
Early advantage

In an explosive start, the hosts forced the visitors on the back foot when fullback Drew Mitchell knocked on under the high ball after 15 seconds.

Worse was to follow with Wallabies' skipper Stirling Mortlock forced to leave the field after a head-to-head clash with Jamie Roberts.

Both players lay on the ground and could not continue with Mortlock carried off immediately and Roberts lasting just 17 minutes.

Wales took full advantage of the early disruption for Australia when Williams touched down for the first try of the match inside four minutes.

Williams started the move with a trademark break before Roberts was denied by Mitchell's try-saving tackle.

But Byrne's pass allowed Williams to score his 44th test try in the right corner.

Powerful runs

Jones missed the conversion but Wales were in the ascendancy with number eight Andy Powell back to his destructive best with several powerful runs.

Australia hit back when Chisholm capitalised on a lucky bounce of the ball from a Wales attacking line-out on 12 minutes to sprint home from 70 metres.

Giteau added the conversion to put the visitors ahead before firing Australia into a 10-5 lead with a fine drop-goal midway through the half.

However, hooker Stephen Moore was yellow carded for a professional foul on the half hour and within a minute, Williams turned provider to allow Byrne to double the try count.

Jones converted for a 15-10 interval lead before Giteau pulled Australia back into contention with a 46th minute penalty.

But Jones edged Wales further clear with a 67th minute drop goal and late penalty before Ioane's late try for Australia and Giteau's missed conversion.

Mils Muliaina of New Zealand enjoys his moment [GALLO/GETTY]
New Zealand dominant

New Zealand, as in their wins over Scotland, Ireland and Wales, poured on the second half power to run away to their biggest win at Twickenham surpassing the 41-20 success two years ago and complete their clean sweep without conceding a try.

"In the end we were playing the kind of game we wanted to and we are very happy with what happened," All Black captain Richie McCaw said after his team added the slam to those of 1978 and 2005.

For an hour England were far more competitive than in their previous defeats by Australia and South Africa but were again undone by their own mistakes as they handed over penalty after penalty and had four players sent to the sin bin.

It had started well for the home side from the moment the 82,000 crowd roared out their loudest rendition of "Sweet Chariot" for years to drown out the Haka.

A failure to stay on the feet at the breakdown became the chief problem but a wild elbow by James Haskell, a week after he handed the Springboks three points for a similar offence, and failure to release handed the initiative to New Zealand.

Carter was shaky but he could afford to be as he was given six straightforward shots at goal in the first half and landed four of them.

Haskell and Lee Mears spent 10 minutes in the sin bin and New Zealand were delighted to reach halftime 12-3 ahead without ever really getting out of third gear.

Dan Carter struggled to find his kicking form [GALLO/GETTY]
Blasted out

England blasted out of the blocks at the restart though and Nick Easter seemed certain to score after surging through only for Muliaina to bring him down with an ankle tap.

The All Blacks defended England's subsequent pressure and when they broke it was Toby Flood's turn to visit the sin-bin for a high-tackle, keeping England at 14 as Haskell returned.

England did finally get some points, the first the All Blacks conceded in the second half in all four tests, as fullback Delon Armitage, who has enjoyed a terrific series, calmly slot a testing penalty to reduce the deficit to six.

Carter was handed an immediate chance to cancel it out but missed again and the All Blacks blew another chance when they knocked on after a 40-metre break by Ma'a Nonu.

However, the try did arrive after 58 minutes when England were shoved back on their own scrum and after slick passing started by Jimmy Cowan, Muliaina was over in the corner.

Ten minutes later Carter chipped the ball straight into the fullback's hands for a second try in the same right corner.

England, as they did last week, then lost their way as Nonu scored his third try in three tests and Carter finally converted to end with 17 points despite missing five goal kicks.

"At times we had an improvement.

"It feels like three weeks on the trot we've been in the game at halftime but not had the execution and composure in the second half," said England manager Martin Johnson.

"Our guys have really got to learn that test match rugby is all about pressure.

"When we made mistakes they killed us and when they made mistakes we didn't do it to them."

Source:
Agencies
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