World Cup warning from winless Wales
WELSH coach Warren Gatland has refused to concede the 33-28 loss to Australia in Cardiff will give the Wallabies a mental edge when the teams meet again in the group stages at next year's World Cup.
The win, secured by a late drop goal and penalty by man of the match Bernard Foley, extended Australia's winning streak against Wales to 10 games, stretching back to November 2008.
But Gatland remained unconvinced 10 would become 11 at Twickenham next October.
"We will be a different beast the next time we meet after more time together," he said. "Given how little time we've had together, we showed a huge amount of positives and we know we can get much better. How much can Australia improve?"
The New Zealander said the positives included his team scoring four tries, but missing two crucial one-on-one tackles, and throwing an intercept pass that led to Israel Folau's second try, had proved costly.
"That was frustrating, but they are things we can iron out," Gatland said. "We have pushed the players hard as part of our long-term plan with everything building to qualifying from that World Cup group."
Folau's first try, which came from an offload by captain Michael Hooper, levelled the scores at 7-7.
The brilliant fullback, who had not scored in the previous four Tests, then grabbed a double following an 80m run, before Alex Cuthbert again equalised for Wales.
Outside centre Tevita Kuridrani continued his excellent run of form by powering his way through two Welsh defenders to score under the posts, but the home side managed to go into the break at 21-21 after the Wallabies defence was unable to stop Alun Wyn Jones.
Two penalties to Foley after the resumption put Australia up 27-21, before South African referee Craig Joubert awarded Wales a penalty try, and ensured it would be the first time it had scored four tries in a match against Australia in 39 years.
It wasn't enough to end the drought, however, Foley's radar boot giving new coach Michael Cheika a perfect start.
Asked about the edge his team seemed to have over Wales, and Gatland's suggestion Wales would improve more than the Wallabies in the lead-up to the World Cup, Cheika had his own views on both fronts.
"Honestly, history is irrelevant in any game. (The future) is all just guessing," he said. "I think we can improve. No doubt about it. Not to mention we've still got some artillery left at home."
The Wallabies take on France in Paris on Sunday morning, before finishing the Spring Tour with matches against Ireland and England as they bid to achieve their first unbeaten tour since 1996.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU
AUSTRALIA 33 (Folau 2, Kuridrani tries; Foley 3 cons; 3 pens; drop goal) WALES 28 (Webb, Cuthbert, Jones, penalty try tries; Halfpenny 2 cons, Biggar con, Priestland con) Crowd: 55,004 at Millenium Stadium in Cardiff
Other scores: All Blacks 24 England 21; Italy 24 Samoa 13; Ireland 29 South Africa 15; Scotland 41 Argentina 31; France 40 Fiji 15