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Jones takes positives from defeat

Alun-Wyn Jones has acknowledged there will be a case of deja vu after Wales suffered their 21st successive defeat against major southern hemisphere opposition.

Wales were once again left to contemplate a case of what might have been, finishing second-best at the Millennium Stadium despite outscoring Australia 4-3 on tries.

The Wallabies' 33-28 victory was built on brilliant individual performances by fly-half Bernard Foley and full-back Israel Folau as Australia left their calling card 11 months before facing Wales in a potentially pivotal World Cup pool clash at Twickenham.

Wales have now been beaten 10 times on the bounce by Australia - six of those losses were by five points or less - and they remain unable to crack the southern hemisphere code.

They have further chances later this month with world champions New Zealand and then South Africa due in Cardiff, but the statistics again stack up in favour of away wins. Wales have not toppled the All Blacks since 1953 and the Springboks for 15 years.

Wales will rightly assess what they did well - a blistering start, a powerful scrum and some slick finishing all stood out - yet there were also uncharacteristic defensive lapses and a failure to close out the game after leading with only eight minutes left.

"If you look at the scoreline, people probably will look at it as where we have been before against these guys," said lock Jones, who was a try-scorer alongside Rhys Webb and Alex Cuthbert, while referee Craig Joubert also awarded Wales a 64th-minute penalty try.

"We got out of the blocks in similar fashion to the way we did in the second Test against South Africa (in June).

"That is a pleasing thing because it means we have kicked on despite the long lay-off. Our training camp has probably helped in that.

"I would be interested to see the possession and territory statistics because it felt as if we did have a lot of ball, but when we got into their 22 we gave them an easy out with penalties, and then they would have a lineout on halfway."

The teams shared six converted tries during a madcap first half, which merely added to a sense of frustration for Wales supporters among a 55,000 crowd - 19,000 below capacity - as they witnessed some exhilarating rugby, in tandem with poor defending that was ruthlessly punished.

"In the past we have been told we are pretty predictable and easy and slow, and teams know where we are going to come from," Jones added.

"But we showed that if we did get a break and an off-load, we can be a different side on the attacking side of the gain-line.

"Early on, it was frenetic, which probably suited us, and that was a positive. I thought we finished the game in the ascendancy, and that was another positive."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland was also far from downcast, predicting "a big upward curve" from his players by the time of next September's World Cup kick-off.

Wales are in the same pool as Australia, England and their opponents next Saturday Fiji, with only two quarter-final places on offer.

"We matched their intensity and tempo, and we will only get better and stronger when we have that preparation time," Gatland said.

"Having that four-five month period from May-June to October means you can get that in-depth coaching and conditioning into the players. We will see a big upward curve in this team as a group and as individuals going into the World Cup.

"When we face them (Australia) in the World Cup we think it's going to be a different beast. A different animal is going to be facing them in that pool game. We will continue to get better.

"The pleasing thing is we've encouraged a bit more risk-taking and off-loading, and our decision-making meant we got behind them a couple of times.

"I am not happy with the result, but I'm happy with the performance. There is something to build on."


From Belfast Telegraph