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Phillips bemoans "devastating" loss


Mike Phillips was left "bitterly disappointed" by Wales' defeat to South Africa.

Mike Phillips was left "bitterly disappointed" by Wales' defeat to South Africa.

Mike Phillips was left "bitterly disappointed" by Wales' defeat to South Africa.

Mike Phillips has rallied Wales for the remainder of their autumn campaign after they suffered a "devastating" defeat against South Africa.

Wales' long barren run against the southern hemisphere heavyweights South Africa, New Zealand and Australia now stands at 17 successive losses, while remarkably it is is four years since they won a November international in Cardiff.

Those are statistics to hurt any team, let alone one that has recently dominated European rugby through winning two RBS 6 Nations titles on the bounce.

While Wales gave it everything, trailing by just two points until the 65th minute despite seeing four players go off injured, South Africa's searing firepower in attack ultimately proved too much as a 3-0 try count underpinned their 24-15 victory.

"I am bitterly disappointed," said scrum-half Phillips, following an impressive display in his first game since being sacked by French club Bayonne last month for alleged drunken behaviour.

"We are used to winning here in Wales and we really felt that we could go out there and create an upset.

"Everybody gave it everything. We came back really well in the second half, but we just felt that there were one or two lapses in concentration and the game was gone from us.

"Obviously, they are a great side and they capitalised on that. It's devastating, really. We just want to go back out there and play the game again, but obviously we can't.

"We have got to learn from this and move on. We've got to win the next three games to put this right."

Argentina - Wales' last autumn scalp in 2009 - are next up in six days' time, followed by Tonga and then Australia, although the first priority for coach Warren Gatland will be to assess an alarming casualty count.

Centre Jonathan Davies is already out of those fixtures due to a chest injury, while prop Adam Jones (calf muscle) could conceivably join him on the sidelines. Wing Liam Williams and substitute prop Scott Andrews were Wales' other early departures.

"We had a bit of bad luck and they capitalised when we had boys down injured as well. We didn't have the rub of the green," Phillips added.

"But there we are. We've got to learn from it, grow from it and move on and win the next three games, really.

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"South Africa are among the most physical teams out there and they've got a simple game-plan. They are very direct and they fed off our mistakes.

"They had a great driving maul and they were maybe a bit more streetwise on the floor. They are good at the tricks of the trade.

"We felt we were back in the game, but they killed us off with that last try. It was really flat in the changing room afterwards. We don't like losing, and while we knew it was going to be a tough game, we were confident and felt we had the talent to do it."

Argentina, beaten emphatically by England on Saturday and unquestionably feeling the effects of a punishing Rugby Championship campaign, comfortably defeated Wales at the Millennium Stadium last year.

A repeat performance from the Pumas next weekend appears unlikely, but Wales know they must regroup quickly - mentally and physically - in order to kick-start the November series.

"It's going to be tough," Phillips said, of Argentina's threat.

"They are very forward-orientated and pride themselves on their scrum and driving lineout. We lost to them last year and we need to match them and get a victory this time."

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