Gareth Anscombe joked that he was ‘p****d off’ for only equaling Dan Biggar’s points record at the Wales World Cup, but his comment was made emphatic after a night to remember.
Anscombe twice jumped for joy as his 23-point win helped Warren Gatland’s side qualify for the quarter-finals with one Pool C match remaining.
The 32-year-old certainly deserved to celebrate; his outstanding man-of-the-match display from the bench was the crowning moment of what has been a remarkable four years.
After creating the game-sealing try for Nick Tompkins in the 40-6 hammering of Eddie Jones’ Australia, Anscombe leapt into the air like a salmon and pumped his fists.
He did the same after captain Jac Morgan’s late score put the spotlight on Wales’ record victory over Australia.
Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe celebrates victory over Australia with his son and daughter
“I think I’ve tried to let myself enjoy big moments a little more,” Anscombe said.
‘These moments are so intense. You really feel the pressure, so it’s nice to be able to let go a little bit.
“I’ll probably try to keep that under control a bit!” I had my daughter and my boy on the field with me after the game, which was very special.
“We work very hard, so I think it’s important that we celebrate little things and enjoy them too.”
There was certainly plenty to enjoy in Lyon for Welsh fans. They became the first of the teams at the tournament here in France to qualify for the last eight.
When No. 10 Biggar had to leave due to an early chest injury, Anscombe was called into action earlier than he expected. How he responded. Anscombe and Wales were dominant.
Anscombe’s 23-point lead helped Warren Gatland’s side qualify for the quarter-finals
Australia wilted severely. Wallaby rugby is in crisis and their team is on the verge of an exit in the group stages for the first time this World Cup. Eddie Jones has failed to make an impact.
Wales were far too good for them and crossed for three tries. Gareth Davies opened the scoring and after a man Gatland’s side excelled.
Anscombe finished with six penalties, a conversion and a drop goal.
When analyzing his brilliant display, it is worth remembering that Anscombe is playing with a bone graft from a deceased donor in his right knee. In 2019, Anscombe’s World Cup dream was ruined by a serious knee injury that required three operations to repair. The fact that he was even able to take the field in Lyon after what he went through fitness-wise was remarkable.
“That’s why you play the game,” Anscombe said matter-of-factly.
Had he not missed two penalties, Anscombe would have passed Biggar’s Welsh World Cup points record, which came against England in 2015, in what was also a famous win.
As it was, he equated his friend’s goal.
The win was Wales’ biggest ever over Australia and the Wallabies’ heaviest at a World Cup
“Dan reminded me that the final kick was to beat his record,” Anscombe said.
“I’m devastated, I just tied that up. Dan is a great man and we get along so well, but he kind of called me out on that. It was important that I did my job. It was nice to spend some time in the big arena.”
Wales have already sealed their place in the quarter-finals. But they will finish top of Group C if they beat Georgia. Gatland’s side now enter the World Cup break after three wins.
Their turnaround since a dismal Six Nations has been simply extraordinary.
Wales will hope Biggar’s injury will not stop him from playing in the knockout rounds. They will likely face Argentina, Japan or Samoa in the last eight.
Gatland has given his players three days off as their last pool match is not until October 7.
Liam Williams summed up the electric mood in the Wales camp.
“To beat Australia by 34 points in a World Cup is a dream,” he said.
Wales will hope Dan Biggar’s injury will not stop him from playing in the knockout rounds
While Wales can hardly believe their position, Jones is in trouble.
Australia’s ex-players have already started to pounce on the former England boss after the biggest World Cup defeat in Wallaby history.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” said former fly-half Bernard Foley.
Jones insisted he was committed to changing Australian rugby after his Wales humiliation, and denied interviewing for the role of Japan head coach before this World Cup.