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Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Saturday, 26 June 2010 13:14 UK

NZ 'there for the taking' - Wales' Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips takes on All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in Wales' 29-10 defeat in Hamilton
Mike Phillips takes on All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in Wales' 29-10 defeat

Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips believes New Zealand "are there for the taking" despite his side's two Test defeats.

The 2008 Grand Slam champions followed up their 42-9 first Test defeat with a gutsy 29-10 loss in Hamilton.

Wales have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953 and have not defeated the Kiwis on New Zealand soil but Phillips insists there's a 'win within us.'

The British and Irish Lions star said: "We can certainly match these teams, they're there for the taking."

Wales have only beaten a southern hemisphere superpower - New Zealand, Australia or South Africa - on their own patch once - a 19-16 win over the Wallabies in Sydney in June 1969.

I think it's just a mental thing about really going out on the field believing that we're good enough

Mike Phillips

The Welsh extended their losing record in New Zealand to nine Tests and Jamie Roberts' try in Saturday's 29-10 defeat was their first against the All Blacks since a Martyn Williams touchdown in Cardiff in 2006.

Phillips admits Wales 'let themselves down in a few areas' in their two-tries-to-one loss at Waikato Stadium which was arguably Wales' best performance against the All Blacks on Kiwi soil.

The 19-point losing margin equalled that of the first Test Wales played in New Zealand in 1969, when Wales conceded four tries in a 19-0 defeat, one of 23 since their last win against the All Blacks in 1953.

Cory Jane and Aaron Cruden took New Zealand's try tally to 98 in meetings between the countries since that day, while Wales have scored only 15 in reply.

Replacement fly-half Cruden's try came in response to Roberts' touchdown but despite the statistics to the contrary, Ospreys number nine Phillips believes the gap is closing between the nations.

He said: "The effort was huge. Our defence was much better - they didn't look like scoring at times.

"We defended our line very well, it was a huge effort and it's just disappointing we didn't take one or two chances and didn't push them even harder.

"It's been disappointing to lose two games, but I think we have to be positive looking forward and there's been a lot of positives.

"We're closing the gap and there is certainly a victory within us against these type of teams.

"I think we matched them in so many areas in the last two games and I think it's just a mental thing about really going out on the field believing that we're good enough as individual players and as a team collectively.

"And I think there's a bright future ahead of Wales around the corner and there's definitely a victory within us.

"The effort has been huge. It's been the end of a long season, the boys have had good seasons for their regions and it's just disappointing that we've come second best to New Zealand and South Africa.

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"And I think a lot of positives have come out of it, a lot of youngsters having a go and we're developing all the time and in the autumn we've really got to get victories under our belt.

"We've learned a lot, we've improved. We've got a young side still and we've got one or two boys coming back with a lot of experience so we've got to be positive.

"We've got to be hard on ourselves as well, but we've got to be positive in moving forward."

Asked if such a victory could be achieved when the two sides meet again in their November Tests when Wales also face Tri-Nations rivals South Africa and Australia, replied: "Yeah, I think so. I definitely do."

New Zealand coach Graham Henry praised the opposition despite the 2-0 Test series defeat.

"I think they played well today," said the former Wales coach.

"They had good continuity of possession, played particularly well late in the second half and showed a lot of spirit.

"They've got a lot of good players and I think they're a very good side."



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