Phillips devastated by defeat
December 2, 2012
Mike Phillips reflects on Wales' defeat to the Wallabies © PA Photos
Mike Phillips required just one word to sum up the Welsh response to a third successive Australian smash and grab raid - devastation.
Wales, World Cup semi-finalists last year and the reigning Six Nation champions, suffered their first four-Test autumn whitewash after Kurtley Beale's try 26 seconds from time gave the Wallabies a dramatic 14-12 success.
Four penalties by the brilliant and brave Leigh Halfpenny - he was carried off and taken to hospital for neck scans following some late, last-ditch defensive work - gave Wales every chance of ending a demoralising losing run. But that sequence has now stretched to seven Tests, with Australia having won their last three encounters by a combined total of just five points.
In Melbourne last June, Mike Harris booted a penalty with the game's final kick to stun Wales 25-23, then seven days later in Sydney a Berrick Barnes penalty after 75 minutes saw Phillips and company beaten 20-19.
Wales have now lost eight games on the bounce against Australia and suffered 20 defeats from 21 appointments with the Wallabies, New Zealand and South Africa since head coach Warren Gatland took charge five years ago.
"It was a game we were in control of and it's very difficult to talk about," Wales scrum-half Phillips said. "To lose again in the last minute like that, it's devastation. We would rather lose by 50 points, I think.
"But we have got to take it on the chin. We played some outstanding rugby, some of the best we have played this autumn. We played really well. We attacked and defended well, and Australia never threatened our line until the last 30 seconds, which makes it more difficult to take.
"It's a case of going back to the clubs and regions now, playing well and improving as individuals, and then come back as a squad and defend our (Six Nations) title."
Even Ryan Jones, a veteran of 70 caps, including a record 29 appearances as Wales captain, struggled to take it all in after the Wallabies followed Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand by completing 22 days of torment for Gatland's squad.
"We have been there before, during the summer," Jones said. "Fingers crossed, we will never be there again.
"We found ourselves sat there very quiet and disappointed in the dressing room. It was a tough place to be. You put your body on the line for 80 minutes, but sometimes you don't get the reward you deserve.
"These are one-score games, and we have to try to nick one of them and kick on from there. We have worked incredibly hard over the last month and got no reward.
"The positives are how this group has grown together this autumn. We have had incredibly bad luck with injuries and stuff, and for the guys to get where they were against Australia is a credit to them.
"We put in an improved performance last week against New Zealand. We finished that game strongly and we started better against Australia, but we are in the results business, I know."
If victory over the Barbarians six months ago today is discounted, Wales have not won a Test match since they clinched the Six Nations title and Grand Slam by beating France in Cardiff on March 17.
Their defence of that crown begins against Ireland in under nine weeks' time, with interim head coach Rob Howley back at the helm for that campaign as Gatland begins full-time work as British and Irish Lions boss for next summer's Australia tour.
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