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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Form guide: Wales
Mark Taylor enjoys a rare break for Wales against New Zealand
Wales rarely managed to find a way through the All Black defence
Any discussion of Wales' performance this term is not so much a review as a post-mortem.

Both off the field and on it, Welsh rugby is in a shocking state.

Despite digging deep against both England and Ireland, Steve Hansen's men fully deserved the Six Nations wooden spoon having been out-fought, out-thought and out-played by Italy at the start of their campaign.

Utterly inconsistent and lacking any game-breakers, they put their faith in youth, only to come off second best in every game of the northern hemisphere international season.

Time and again the Welsh line-out proved embarrassing and their inability to create a platform for their backs was all-too evident.

In short, Hansen and his players will desperately want to forget their foray in the 2003 Six Nations.

From the moment they lined up against the Italians they were clearly a shadow of their former selves - arguably hitting a new low in a difficult few seasons.

Their efforts against Ireland, when they lost by a single point, proved the highlight of the campaign. but was also the most disappointing result, victory being denied them at the death.

But in a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire, a morale-sapped squad faced back-to-back Tests down under against Australia and New Zealand.

No wonder they missed their plane after an unedifying pay dispute.

But the squad regrouped to put on one of their better performances, showing a glimmer of flair and running rugby against Australia despite falling behind early.

FORM IN 2003

Hansen pushed his men to employ a counter-attacking policy, which briefly rattled the Australians in a 30-10 defeat.

A week on, Wales failed to carry over their impressive display from the Wallaby game as New Zealand demolished them in an eight-try extravaganza.

Against undoubtedly less challenging opposition in the form of Ireland, the losing streak stretched to 10 in August, with Wales conceding five tries, all from forwards.

And the pain of defeat went on still further as the Welsh put up little resistance against fringe members of the English squad who racked up a record win in Cardiff.

But from the depths of despair, coach Hansen and his men were finally able to breathe easy when an experimental Wales cruised past Romania 54-8 to end an 11-match losing streak.

Full-back Gavin Henson starred with 24 points, but it was the win against Scotland that gave faithful followers of Welsh rugby hope.

Michael Owen got the only try of the game with rugby league convert Iestyn Harris taking the man of the match honours with a probing performance and 15 points.

Finally, there is hope for the challenges ahead down under.





Links to more Wales stories


 

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