Kangaroos crush Wales
Australia maintained their 100% record against Wales with an ultimately comfortable 56-14 victory in Wrexham, but Iestyn Harris\' team ended their first Gillette Four Nations campaign with their heads held high.
The Welsh threatened to spring a major upset when early tries by wingers Rhys Williams and Elliot Kear gave them an 8-0 lead and briefly put them in sight of a first win in 13 meetings with the Kangaroos.
It rekindled memories of Wales\' heroic efforts in the 2000 World Cup semi-final when they led 20-8 before eventually subsiding 46-22.
Lee Briers, who was at the heart of that near-miss in Huddersfield 11 years ago, was again instrumental in front of a 5,233 crowd at the Racecourse Ground on his final appearance for his country.
As in 2000, Wales were unable to sustain their challenge and this time Australia wrapped up their 10-try success long before the end, with stand-off Cooper Cronk scoring a hat-trick and Johnathan Thurston contributing 20 points with a try and eight goals.
Having already qualified for next Saturday\'s final against England, Australia coach Tim Sheens took the opportunity to give run-outs to the fringe players in his 24-man squad and half-back Daly Cherry-Evans was among the tryscorers on his Test debut.
The Kangaroos were still trailing 8-6 four minutes before half-time, but Cronk went over in quick succession before the break and the visitors ran in six more in a largely one-sided second half.
It was anything but one-way traffic in the first half, however.
When Jharal Yow Yeh, competing with Josh Morris for a wing spot at Elland Road, lost the ball on his own 20-metre area it gifted Wales a glorious attacking position and they made the most of it.
Briers spotted plenty of room in the corner and judged his kick to perfection for Williams to dive on the ball to open the scoring on nine minutes.
Briers then sliced through the heart of the Australian defence and fed the ball back for full-back Danny Jones to get Kear over at the other corner.
The captain was unable to convert either try, but Wales were good for their 8-0 lead and it could have been even better as they forced two goal-line drop-outs to keep up the pressure.
Video referee Ben Thaler denied Yow Yeh a try, ruling he illegally stole the ball from Williams, and also ruled against Wales substitute Aled James after another Briers kick had caused confusion in the Australian ranks.
As if he had witnessed enough of the nonsense, Australia captain Cameron Smith then took a hand, forcing his way over from dummy half for his side\'s first try on 24 minutes and Johnathan Thurston kicked the first of his eight goals.
A timely Briers interception enabled the home side to relieve the pressure but the inevitable happened as the Welsh defence cracked twice in the last four minutes of the first half.
Smith burst clear to send Cronk over and Wales barely had time to regroup before Thurston got Greg Inglis striding into a hole in their defence to send the stand-off in for his second try.
Any hope Wales had of getting back into the game disappeared within five minutes of the restart when the Kangaroos scored two more converted tries to open up a 22-point lead.
Thurston pierced the Welsh defence and Cronk got Cherry-Evans over while full-back Darius Boyd took a return pass from Morris to touch down.
Wales continued to play with bags of spirit, however, and prop Jordan James pulled a try back on 50 minutes after namesake Aled had palmed back Briers\' kick and the skipper\'s first goal made it 30-14.
However, the Aussies were always likely to break away at any time and Boyd did just that to get Thurston over on 58 minutes and, as the Welsh part-timers tired, the visitors cut loose to add four more tries in the final quarter.
Thurston picked off a Mark Lennon pass to send Inglis in, Yow Yeh squeezed over at the corner, Cherry-Evans split the home defence to enable Cronk to complete his hat-trick and Morris went over for his side\'s 10th try.