Matt Giteau made the critics eat their words with a world class display against Wales during Australia’s 12-33 victory in the Invesco Perpetual Series at the Millennium Stadium.
The Wallaby fly half responded to the bombardment of criticism he suffered after the tourists lost to Scotland last weekend with a man of the match performance.
He was instrumental in two of the Wallabies tries and pulled the strings expertly as Robbie Deans’s side finished their tour on a winning note. Australia played with power, pace and precision to condemn Warren Gatland’s men to a defeat.
“Last week we played too conservative (against Scotland) and maybe we didn’t chance our arm,” he said, “We went out thinking we may as well go out there and throw the ball around, we had nothing to lose.
“It’s very important for the group to show we are going places. There may be people in the Australian media who think we’re not and that we get paid too much. But we’ve got a lot of pride in our jumper and every time we play we give our all.
“A lot of the boys were disappointed, myself included with last week game, but we got everyone back up and playing good football.”
Giteau missed a match-winning kick at the end of the match with Scotland last week, and suffered criticism in the wake of the 9-8 defeat, but his side delivered the perfect response with a four-try win at the Millennium Stadium.
Digby Ioane, James Horwill and David Pocock all touched down in the opening 40 minutes before Tatafu Polota-Nau sealed victory for the visitors after the interval.
Wales got on the scoreboard thanks to three penalties from Stephen Jones and a solitary strike from Leigh Halfpenny but the hosts had no answer to the power of the Tri Nations giants.
After a dismal trip to Europe with just one win from three matches, Australia flew out of the traps aiming to atone for the defeat at Murrayfield last weekend.
Deans’ men started brightly with Matt Giteau, the villain following his last gasp conversion miss against the Scots, putting the visitors in the driving seat as early as the third minute with a long-range penalty.
Wales, who were already without skipper Ryan Jones with a back strain, suffered further injury woes when IRB World Player of the Year Shane Williams limped off with a hamstring problem.
Then, a minute later, new captain Gethin Jenkins saw his men concede the opening try. Giteau’s cleverly-waited grubber kick allowed Digby Ioane to beat wing Leigh Halfpenny to the ball and pounce for a simple try.
The star number ten missed the conversion from the left touchline but Deans’ pumped-up side had sent out an emphatic early message of intent.
Halfpenny finally got Wales into the scoreboard with a long-range penalty on 18 minutes but within a minute, the Wallabies had doubled their try count.
Benn Robinson shrugged off Luke Charteris’ soft tackle and Drew Mitchell fed James Horwill for a simple finish in the left corner.
Giteau again missed the conversion before Stephen Jones booted home his first penalty. Australia were dangerous in attack and it was no surprise when they added a third score to cap a nightmare 24 minutes for Gatland’s men.
Giteau put the Wallabies into excellent field position and flanker David Pocock capitalised by fending off James Hook and Charteris to touch down.
Giteau added the extras for a commanding 20-6 lead before Gatland saw his luck ran out completely when Halfpenny and then hooker Matthew Rees went off injured.
Despite the changes, Jones hammered home his second penalty from distance.But for a third successive time, a lapse in concentration from the Dragons at the re-start allowed Giteau to nudge Australia further ahead.
Jones fired Wales again with a third penalty on the stroke of half-time but both the fly-half and Hook missed chances to pile the pressure on the Wallabies.
The home side should have scored when neat work by Jones put Jamie Roberts through a gap but the move broke down.
Then Giteau showed his class when his darting run beat Duncan Jones before feeding replacement prop Polota-Nau to seal a routine victory.