The Rugby World Cup in France is set to end in humiliating fashion for the Wallabies, thrashed by Wales 40-6 to continue their misery under coach Eddie Jones.
The desperate Australians needed victory in Lyon over their unbeaten pool rivals on Sunday (Monday AEST) but barring a miracle that requires Fiji to lose both their remaining games without bonus points they will bow out.
It will mark the first time the Wallabies have ever missed the World Cup quarter-finals, with the defeat their biggest-ever in tournament history.
The loss capped a dramatic day with a report emerging that Jones had already interviewed for the Japan coaching role with an eye on departing the Australian set-up despite four years to run on his contract.
Rugby Australia boss Phil Waugh said on Sunday before the match that Jones had denied that he was pursuing a return to the Brave Blossoms and he would be “disappointed” to find that was the case.
On the back of the dire World Cup showing, with just one win from eight Tests now under Jones, and the Australian team going backwards in every department, Waugh may change his mind.
The Wallabies were looking to rebound from their first ever defeat by Fiji in their last pool game but delivered another messy performance with poor decision-making and discipline again an issue.
It was highlighted by a bizarre decision not to take a penalty kick from right in front of the posts which would have closed the gap to 9-10 and instead opted for a line-out, which they lost.
Welsh flanker Jac Morgan grabbed the loose ball and booted a 50:22 and then the Wallabies gave away a penalty themselves, with Gareth Anscombe slotting a penalty for his team to lead 13-6.
Anscombe replaced star Welsh play-maker Dan Biggar, who was forced off after 12 minutes with a shoulder injury, and finished with a personal points tally of 23 points, including six penalty goals.
Long-time Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper, in commentary with Stan after being axed by Jones as he pursued a youth policy, said: “Tell me why you wouldn’t take the kick. I can’t see too many reasons why you wouldn’t.”
The Australians got off to the worst possible start, incurring a penalty seconds in and then Gareth Davies scored after three minutes after a break by flanker Jac Morgan.
Two penalties by new five-eighth Ben Donaldson meant the Wallabies trailed 7-6 but Anscombe kept the scoreboard ticking over for Wales to take a 16-6 lead into halftime.
Halfback Tate McDermott did his best to spark the attack but the combination with Donaldson didn’t really click while their set-piece failed to fire, particularly in the second half.
The death knell sounded for the men in gold seven minutes into the half when Anscombe noticed the Wallabies had no-one defending at fullback and chipped over the top for centre Nick Tompkins to run through and score.
The conversion pushed the lead out to a commanding 26-6 with Wales continuing the onslaught with 33 unanswered points to lock in their play-off berth.
Finding no way back into the match, the Wallabies went down with a whimper although still have to front for their final pool match next week against Portugal.
© AAP 2023