Australia v Wales, Sydney, June 23
Howley refuses to be too downcast
June 18, 2012
Caretaker coach Rob Howley saw his side slip to another narrow defeat against the Wallabies on Saturday © Getty Images
Caretaker boss Rob Howley believes his side must learn to "master" the key moments if they are to challenge and beat the world's best on a regular basis.
Wales' hopes of a series victory against Australia evaporated in the most dramatic fashion in Melbourne on Saturday night when the tourists slipped to an agonising 25-23 defeat. In the lead and seemingly in control of the game as the clock ran down, Wales conspired to gift possession back to the Wallabies who eventually won the game with a last-gasp penalty from replacement fly-half Mike Harris.
"When you haven't won in Australia since 1969 and you are 20 seconds away from doing that, it doesn't get any worse than that," Howley said. "We were 20 seconds away from beating Australia. For 79 minutes and 40 odd seconds we have done a lot of good. But we are getting closer and are not far away, are we?"
On his side's late capitulation that saw replacement Richard Hibbard give away a penalty that allowed the Wallabies to snatch victory, Howley added: "We spoke in the change room about lacking composure. We gave them the opportunity through lack of discipline in the last two minutes and like any top side in world rugby they take their chances.
"It is just a matter of mastering those key moments in international Test match rugby. Today, on occasions, we didn't master those moments as we have in previous games, particularly in the Six Nations."
Lock Alun Wyn Jones is determined to lead the fightback in the final Test in Sydney this weekend. "We can be negative, dour or whatever but this is professional sport and there is no point dwelling on it.
"We have to move on and there is still history to be made by winning a game down here and that means there is still a big carrot on the end of a long stick."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.