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Warren Gatland sees ‘real positives’ in face of mounting pressure

By PA
Warren Gatland, Head Coach of Wales is pictured ahead of the Summer Rugby International between South Africa and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on June 22, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Warren Gatland was left to reflect on another painful defeat as Wales went down 25-16 against Australia in Sydney and suffered an eighth successive Test match loss.

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Wales have not won a Test since they defeated World Cup pool opponents Georgia nine months ago.

And although they had their moments at the Allianz Stadium, it was ultimately an all-too-familiar story.

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“I understand you are going to get pressure from people talking about a losing run at the moment,” Wales head coach Gatland told Sky Sports.

“But in that run we have been in games, been in front and easily could have won a few, and tonight was the same.

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“A bit more accuracy, decisions which go your way and you win. Those are big moments that we need to learn from to make sure that in those tight matches where it is an arm-wrestle you end up on the winning side.

“I think we hurt ourselves with a number of turnovers, and the penalty count early on. Soft penalties hurt us.”

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Wales had a second-half try from replacement James Botham disallowed for obstruction, which appeared a marginal call from the officials.

“I need to get some clarity on the disallowed try from the maul, and we are where we are at the moment,” Gatland added.

“We are not getting any 50-50 calls and we just have to work through that.

“I thought there were some real positives out there in terms of what we are trying to do.

“We have been upfront in what we are trying to do in building this team. I hope people can see some development in terms of the players and experience with what we are trying to do towards the next Rugby World Cup.”

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Wales crushed Australia 40-6 at the last World Cup, yet Eddie Jones’ head coach successor Joe Schmidt enjoyed a winning start to his reign following tries from prop Taniela Tupou, wing Filipo Daugunu and full-back Tom Wright.

Wallabies fly-half Noah Lolesio kicked a conversion and two penalties, while Tom Lynagh – son of Australia World Cup winner Michael Lynagh – added the extras to Wright’s touchdown.

Wales’ last win against Australia came in 1969, and there were times when they threatened to end that sequence, posting a penalty try and three penalties from fly-half Ben Thomas.

But Australia had just enough in the tank, with Wright’s try 11 minutes from time sealing the deal and finally subduing a spirited Wales display.

Wales captain Dewi Lake said: “We have to learn how to win games, to put points on the board and see games out.

“Credit to Australia, they put points on the board and made us chase the game. A couple (of opportunities) went begging tonight, and that is the difference on the scoreboard.”

Wales now head to Melbourne for next Saturday’s second Test, and Lake added: “I don’t think this is a squad that needs galvanising, to be honest.

“We are ready to put everything on the line for each other to get the win for everyone back home and for the jersey. It is more about learning quickly and how to see these games out.”

Schmidt, meanwhile, added: “We hope the players will learn through these next few weeks so we can get to a better place. That was an arm-wrestle at the end.

“I am proud of the boys that they earned it, but we are all a bit frustrated that we didn’t play as well as we would have liked, and I am sure the Welsh feel the same way.”

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Bull Shark 13 days ago

Should have accepted that resignation.

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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