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Gatland still targets massive win for Wales

By Andrew Baldock

Warren Gatland accepts that Wales need to "get across the line" in their pursuit of a major rugby prize that has eluded them for six years.

Not since November 2008 and the 11th game of head coach Gatland's current 82-Test reign have Wales floored a southern hemisphere heavyweight.

On that occasion it was Saturday's opening autumn Test opponents Australia, beaten 21-18 just eight months after Wales were crowned RBS 6 Nations champions in Grand Slam fashion.

Five of nine subsequent defeats against the Wallabies have been by four points or less, while they twice lost by a point to South Africa during the same period.

"We are pretty aware we have been knocking on the door and put ourselves in situations - perhaps not against the All Blacks, but definitely against South Africa and Australia - on a number of occasions to win games," Gatland said.

"We had a pretty honest debrief when we first came in (to prepare for the autumn series).

"We looked at the second Test in South Africa (Wales lost 31-10 in Nelspruit five months ago) and hopefully the things we can learn from, make sure that learning takes place and we are a bit more clinical when we get that opportunity again, if it does arise.

"Once you do it the first time, it becomes easier the second and the third time. We have been knocking at the door, but we've got to get through it and get across the line and nail one of those victories."

This weekend's clash is given added emphasis by the fact that Wales and Australia will lock horns during next year's Rugby World Cup in a fearsome pool that also includes highly-fancied host nation England and often-dangerous Fiji.

The Wallabies have arrived with a new coach - former Leinster supremo Michael Cheika - and found themselves dodging fall-out from Kurtley Beale's recent brush with Australian rugby authorities that earned the full-back a five-figure fine.

"A lot of people have been talking about what's happened with Kurtley Beale and those sort of things, and does that make them more vulnerable?" Gatland added.

"With Australians, it makes them stronger.

"They thrive on any adversity and any criticism, and we are expecting a really tough game on Saturday.

"I have got a massive amount of respect for what Michael (Cheika) has achieved. He is the only coach who has won a European Cup and a Super Rugby title.

"What he did with Leinster was incredibly impressive, and what he has done with New South Wales in terms of turning them around in a pretty short time.

"I think by his own admission it is going to take a little bit of time, but having watched him and seen him operate, it won't be that long.

"He plays a really positive brand of rugby, he gets his point across pretty succinctly and he is pretty honest with the players, and they appreciate that."

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