Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Phillips devastated by last-gasp defeat

Mike Phillips, left, said to lose to Australia by just two points was 'devastation' for Wales

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 RBS 6 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.

"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."

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.

But Phillips hopes the squad can continue to improve before the group defend the Six Nations next spring, and he added: "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."

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