Warren Gatland described Wales' 33-12 loss to Australia on Saturday at the Millennium Stadium as the "most disappointing performance" since he took over as head coach two years ago. Wales were outplayed in every facet of the game by a Wallabies team Gatland declared were more "desperate" for the victory following their 9-8 humbling against Scotland last weekend.
"That was the most disappointing performance since I've been in charge of Wales," said a dejected Gatland after the match. "Australia dominated the air, defensively it was one of the best displays seen by an Australian side. At scrum time they were strong, in the contact they were aggressive and strong. "We are disappointed by the number of turnovers, we failed to capitalise on a few opportunities, we played against a team that was a little more desperate and hungrier than we were."
Australia scored four tries from Digby Ioane, James Horwill, David Pocock and Tatafu Polota-Nau, including three in a blistering 16-minute first-half spell. Wales were restricted to three Stephen Jones penalties and a long-range effort from Leigh Halfpenny as they crashed to their heaviest home defeat since Gatland took over after the 2007 Rugby World Cup. "Some of our tackling in the first half was very disappointing. This was my worst day with Wales so far," said Gatland's assistant coach Sean Edwards.
"Australia's defence was magnificent. The tackler was incredibly proactive and it wasn't just the back row but from one to 15. Even the scrum-half was very dynamic over the ball. That is the modern game, the aerial battle and the breakdown, two areas we came second." Wales lost Shane Williams (hamstring), Matthew Rees (groin) and Halfpenny (dead leg), all of them British & Irish Lions, inside the first half hour but by then Australia were well on top.
Robbie Deans, the Australian coach, suggested Wales may have been guilty of underestimating the Wallabies after their defeat to Scotland, but he was more delighted by the response from his own side. "We are stoked this group took the step they did today. We have been waiting for it to come and we have been close but the boys got it done today," he said. "Also, maybe Wales underestimated us. Maybe they saw we came up short against Scotland and thought we were there for the taking. It doesn't matter. The Test was played today and we got up and it was a good effort."
* PA Sport