Wallabies strike pay dirt with 'never give up' attitude - Adam Ashley-Cooper

Many words have been used to describe the Wallabies' formidable defensive effort against Wales at the Rugby World Cup, but the magnitude of their 13-man effort is perhaps best summed up by Adam Ashley-Cooper.

"It was highly stressful, but, yeah, I mean we stuck to it," the veteran winger said the morning after the 15-6 triumph at Twickenham. "We held together. Our backs were against the wall and we never gave up. And I think that's a great trait of this Australian team. It's something that we're starting to develop, that 'never give up' attitude, and it's really good. It's starting to pay off."

Pay off it did as Australia booked a quarterfinal clash against Scotland, the lowest-ranked nation of the remaining eight sides, at Twickenham on Sunday. But it looked for all money as though Wales would be the side to enter the "easier" side of the knockout draw as Will Genia and then Dean Mumm were sent to the sin-bin.

Down to 13 men for seven minutes, the Wallabies were forced to repel wave after wave of Welsh attacks as Warren Gatland's side tried their luck from five-metre scrums and lineouts, and with a series of forward carries close to the line. In the end, Wales were probably a little guilty of playing too narrowly with the obvious overlaps out wide overlooked. Still, the plaudits have rightly come flooding in for the Wallabies, and their defensive coach Nathan Grey, after they eventually managed to clear their line and secure the three points that killed of a gallant Wales side.

"Test-match footy is always pretty intense," Ashley-Cooper said. "But that certainly would be one of the most intense, I guess the most stressful, times of Test-match footy. You know two men in the bin, Wales continually pressing against your line ... it was tough, it could have gone either way."

Away from their defence, the Wallabies scrum again proved itself among the world's best as they recovered from a shaky start to get the better of their Welsh opponents. The Australian pack was forced to scrum with seven forwards during Mumm's absence - a fact not lost on prop Sekope Kepu, who had earlier been replaced.

"Yeah, it was very satisfying," Kepu said. "It was a brutal, tough encounter, and we knew that it was gonna come. We prepared for it and, you know, credit to Wales; they threw everything at us - the kitchen sink and everything.

"And I must rap the boys who were out there fighting hard. Those things, those experiences, you wouldn't have it any other way and I think it will put us in good stead moving forward ... it shows the hard work that we've put in over the last few months; the work that Cheik's been doing from 10 months ago when it started, and the belief within the team, the trust, that we've worked hard on.

"The boys who were out there, they really, really enjoyed it. They wouldn't have it any other way. It's very hard to describe but very satisfying to see the boys dig deep for each other."

After defending for much of the second half, it was Ashley-Cooper who made the defining tackle that allowed the Wallabies to clear and then secure the match-sealing three points a short while later.

Ever the team man, the 111-Test veteran was quick to deflect any individual credit.

"It was, I guess, a lucky read in a way - an educated gamble," Ashley-Cooper said of the 68th minute tackle on Wales fly-half Dan Biggar. "But I was lucky enough to pull it off, and obviously KB [Kurtley Beale] came over the top and got the steal. But that wasn't me. That was off the back a lot of scrum D, a lot of maul D, continually grinding away, tackling, keeping them away from the line. So it was a good team effort."