Why Wales came up short

Sun, 24 Jun 2012 13:04
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Wales' caretaker coach Rob Howley was disappointed that his side came up short in their Test series against the Wallabies.

Wales' caretaker coach Rob Howley said plaudits as gallant losers were fine but his side still came up short in their heartbreak three-Test series against the Wallabies in Australia.

The Six Nations champions again failed to hold on to a late lead through a lack of composure and went down 19-20 the final Test in Sydney at the weekend to lose all three Tests to the Wallabies - but by a total of only 11 points.

In Sydney Wales were 19-17 up with five minutes to go before Berrick Barnes landed a pressure penalty to squeak Australia home, a week after the tourists fell to a penalty after the final siren in the Melbourne second Test.

The young Welsh side earned plenty of admiration for taking the Wallabies - ranked second in the world - to the brink in all their three internationals but Howley was pragmatic about the outcome.

"It's 3-0, it's a whitewash and there's no hiding away from that," Howley said.

"But there's a lot of good ingredients of what's happened over the last three weeks and they can be very proud of their efforts.

"We've been very close over the last two weeks and the one thing you need to do to gain respect is to win in Australia and we've come up short. It's one thing to get the taps on the back, [but] this Welsh team is better than that."

The Welsh, who won all their five matches in this year's Six Nations to take a third Grand Slam in eight years, have now lost five times to the Wallabies in the last eight months and have not won in Australia since 1969.

Many of Howley's side are expected to return to Australia next year with the British and Irish Lions, with Wales the leading northern hemisphere nation in the IRB world rankings at number four.

"I couldn't imagine why a lot of them would not be in the British and Irish Lions side," said Wallabies' fly-half Barnes.

"You look at their side and they're probably in a position we were a few years ago, a lot of young fellows playing 20 Tests and when they get up to 30-40 Tests, a bit more experience, it's going to help them, no doubt."