Gatland: 'We should have won"
December 1, 2012
Australia's Wycliff Palu does just enough to deny Wales a try at the Millennium Stadium © PA Photos
Wales boss Warren Gatland was quick to point the finger at his side's defensive shortcomings after they slipped to a narrow 14-12 defeat to Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Wallabies playmaker Kurtley Beale struck with a match-winning try in the final minute of a tense encounter to condemn Wales to their seventh straight defeat after the hosts had looked on course for a morale-boosting win to ease the pain of recent defeats to Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand.
"We are pretty gutted," said Gatland. "I thought apart from the last minute, we played some outstanding rugby today. It was a close, tight Test match, which you expect. We put ourselves in a position where we should have won."
And the New Zealander accepted his side had only themselves to blame for this latest reverse that will see them drop into the third group of seeds for Monday's 2015 Rugby World Cup pool draw and so they must face the prospect of being grouped with two of the world's top eight sides.
He said: "The disappointing thing for me is we turned over a line-out and it was obvious Australia were going to run the ball from behind the goal-line and we allowed them to get 30 metres from that and release a bit of pressure. We should have had guys in the front line and defended that a bit better.
"Also in the last couple of plays we had people hanging back so it was a bit of naivety. It was a tough match and it was disappointing. We haven't spoken to the players yet but I would want to know what was our communication at the last scrum. They were set up to move the ball and we had to make sure they did not get out of their 22. I am not sure we communicated or spoke but until I speak to the players I am not sure."
Captain Sam Warburton, whose side fell to three similarly narrow defeats to Australia earlier this year, added: "We kept them out for the whole game and defended reasonably well, and it is probably the hardest defeat I have had to take as a player.
"I was gutted when I looked up and saw the break and saw Kurtley Beale going for the line. You knew that was it, really. It was demoralising because the effort was there from everybody and it felt like today was the day we were definitely going to do it."
Australia coach Robbie Deans was delighted to end a troubled year with another win that sets them up nicely for the visit of the British & Irish Lions next year. He said: "It was a great game as all of our encounters with Wales have been this year. It was a great Test match to finish the year on, it had everything.
"Credit to the lads for even being in the game at the end, they have had a huge year and that was a fast and physical game so to be in the game at the end was credit to them, but to get up to win it was even better."
The game also marked the 116th and last Test appearance for Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe. He said: "Of course I will miss it. It's what I have done as long as I can remember. I might have to find some walls to run into every weekend to ease my way out of it I think.
"The thing I will miss the most is being in that team environment and having a goal that is in that pressure cooker situation. You love it and you hate it, it's big highs and low lows so that will be most challenging thing for me."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
A preview of the 2014-15 Aviva Premiership season as we run the rule over Bath, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester, Harlequins, Leicester Tigers and London Irish
Concussion specialist Dr Ryan Kohler warns of the dangers of pushy parents who want their kids back on the field ahead of time
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes