A proud new dad and an adopted Kiwi helped the Wallabies score a dramatic series victory over Wales in Melbourne last night.
After racing back from Sydney, where he'd been on hand for the birth of his first son, Berrick Barnes kicked 18 points for the Wallabies before Mike Harris stepped up to finish the job after the siren in spectacular circumstances.
Trailing 23-22, time was up when Australia rolled a maul from near halfway to the 22 and referee Chris Pollock awarded a penalty. Harris, who'd been on for only six minutes, kicked a composed missile from near the sideline to win the game and wrap up the three-test series.
The Wallabies jumped into each other's arms, and no-one was more pleased than man-of-the-match Barnes, who'd flown back to Melbourne only two hours before the match.
After a see-sawing second half in which the lead changed eight times, Wales led 23-22 in the 72nd minute when Barnes had a chance to knock over his sixth goal and potentially seal the match.
Struggling with a groin injury, however, Barnes missed his first of the night before being replaced.
Several Wallaby raids in the dying minutes also couldn't get them past the determined Welsh, with reserve flanker Michael Hooper knocking on twice. But then Harris got his shot and took it.
Wales had tackled with enormous courage for the whole match, turning the game into a penalty shoot-out. The tourists outscored Australia two tries to one but allowed the hosts to stay in the game with an ill-disciplined approach to slowing the Wallaby ball down at the breakdown.
The Welsh spoke during the week of starting the second test with the same verve as the end of the first, and they did, scoring a try while many in the modest crowd were still finding their seats. In his first touch as a new dad, Barnes kicked out on the full and gave Wales early territory. They took advantage, and after attacking the Wallabies' line for eight phases, big winger George North picked up from a ruck and crawled over the paint.
Eventually the Wallabies snared first points with a penalty to Barnes after drawing a foul out of the visitors after a 14-phase attack. Barnes knocked over a second penalty in the 29th minute as the Wallabies began to dominate possession and territory.
Rob Horne featured on the stroke of halftime, when Barnes slid through a gap left by a struggling Sam Warburton in the mid-field. He drew the fullback and sent his NSW team-mate in for the Wallabies' first try and a halftime lead. The lead see-sawed in the third quarter, with Wales scoring a try soon after the break.
A clean lineout win saw Will Genia pop a ball for Digby Ioane on his right hip but the winger went inside and Ashley Beck toed the loose ball on. Fellow Wales centre Jonathan Davies raced after the ball and beat Rob Simmons for another toe-on, and he regathered near the line to crash over.
WALLABIES BACK Kurtley Beale faces assault charges stemming from an incident at a Brisbane nightspot this month.
The Australian Rugby Union said in a statement last night that Beale has been informed by Queensland state police he will face a count of common assault.
Beale is a member of the Australian squad but was not selected for last night's second test against Wales while he recovers from a shoulder injury.