Howley rues missed chances
June 9, 2012
Wales forwards Toby Faletau and Paul James trudge from the field © Getty Images
Wales' caretaker coach Rob Howley has demanded his side rediscover a clinical edge ahead of next weekend's second Test with Australia in Melbourne.
The Six Nations champions slumped to a 27-19 defeat to the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday night that brought an end to a six-match unbeaten run and saw them leak as many tries as they did in the whole of this year's battle for northern hemisphere supremacy.
However, Howley remains confident that his much-fancied side can bounce back with a victory next weekend having pushed the Wallabies all the way. "We showed great character and spirit in the second half to bring the game back to 20-19, but it is all about being clinical," said Howley. "All the chances we created in the second half, compared to the first half performance, caused Australia some problems. But we just didn't take enough of our opportunities.
"In the first half the speed and intensity of the game was at a level we hadn't played at for some time. We struggled with the pace of the game. As a result our support systems around the tackle area weren't good enough. For the next six or seven days we will work hard to improve and we will be much better for having played a game.
"We didn't grasp the speed of the ball at the tackle area and that is something we will have to do some work on. We also played too much in our territory instead of going for field position. But while we were 10-3 down at half-time, we only lost the second half 17-16. Our brand of rugby involves an offloading style, but on our terms and we lacked accuracy under pressure."
Australia coach Robbie Deans saw his side bounce back from a shock mid-week defeat to Scotland and is also confident his side can improve further. "We are very proud of the players' response not only from the start, but especially at 20-19. It has been a huge effort and they got the job done," said Deans.
"Will Genia and Berrick Barnes were both very good and gave us a clear understanding of what we were trying to do. But this is a good Welsh side that put us under a lot of pressure. They are a fit side and it is going to be a great series for sure. They are going to come back at us strongly in Melbourne."
Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia was the star of the show and pounced with a superb individual score in the opening moments of the second half. "We spoke about character in the preparation. We knew what we were capable of doing, and how to put it into practice, and that's what we did," he said.
"We wanted to hit back after the defeat to Scotland and we are happy with the win. The forwards gave me good clean ball and the wingers worked hard off my shoulders. But the credit has to go to the guys up front because they won us quick ball. That made my job a lot easier."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside
"He had a death stare so you'd know when you were wrong." George Kruis talks about his mentor Borthwick, fly-fishing and his England aspirations