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Pivac hails Priestland after heart-racing late penalty heroics

Pivac hails Priestland after heart-racing late penalty heroics

Wayne Pivac admitted his heart rate was through the roof as he watched Rhys Priestland’s last-gasp penalty give Wales a dramatic 29-28 victory over Australia in Cardiff.

An early Andrew Kellaway try saw the Wallabies take an early lead but after Rob Valetini was shown red, Ryan Elias’ try and Dan Biggar’s boot put Wales 16-13 up at the break.

Late penalty gives Wales victory over 14-man Australia

The second half proved just as eventful as Nick Tompkins’ scored an opportunistic try before Australia surged back thanks to scores from Nic White and Filipo Daugunu.

Kurtley Beale’s 40m penalty edged the visitors back in front but Priestland struck the winning points with the last kick – much to the delight of Pivac and the Principality Stadium crowd.

“I did watch it [the penalty] and [my heart-rate] was very high, I’ve got to say. Those situations are cruel, one team has to be on the receiving end of a kick like that,” he said.

Rhys Priestland celebrates after kicking the match winning kick

“From our point of view, we’re very pleased we did the work to get back up there.

“It would have been nice to cross the line, we must have been inches away. But for Rhys Priestland coming back into the international scene, to kick that, he’ll be a happy man.”

The victory for Wales was their third in a row against Australia, following their quarter-final triumph in the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the tight 9-6 win in Cardiff in 2018.

But while Wales held the lead for much of the match after Valetini’s sending off, Pivac said there is still plenty for his side to work on after a mixed Autumn Nations Series.

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“It was a funny game, wasn’t it? It was stop-start, not a lot of rugby played in that first half, it seemed. But when we got ahead 23-13 we were feeling good about ourselves,” he said.

“Mistakes started to creep in in that last quarter. We had a dropped restart and then some discipline issues, a yellow card and put ourselves under immense pressure.

“It was a game I felt we should have run away with in that last 15 minutes and made it comfortable for ourselves. I was very pleased with the group we had out there in the last quarter of the game, they managed to salvage a result in the end.

Wales celebrate after Rhys Priestland converts the match winning penalty kick

“It’s the quality of the group and if you look at the players out there at the end and the combinations, I thought they did very well to get back and have one last crack at it.

“It would have been nice to score the try at the end but to set it up to get the penalty was very pleasing. We’ll go away and review that.

“But for this particular group, the work they’ve done in the last three weeks in camp, with a game against the world champions and the brutal game we had last week with one and a bit training sessions this week, we’ll take that and enjoy it.

“When the dust settles, we’ll look back at the squad we’ve used, the depth that we’ve created. When we go one to 15 on our depth chart, the benefits will lie there, really.”

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