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Qantas Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie was left lamenting “three or four moments” that were the difference between the Men of Gold starting their Spring Tour off with a win against England at Twickenham on Sunday morning (AEDT).
"In terms of going backwards, people will judge that, but I think we're remaining competitive," McKenzie said after the narrow 20-13, two tries to one loss.
"We're not getting the scoreboard right but we're remaining competitive. It could have been a win, it could have been a draw, it could have been a loss.
"We're not miles away but we've got to handle three or four moments better, that's what it gets down to. That requires 80 minutes of concentration and 80 minutes of effort across 23 players."
The Wallabies led 13-6 at half time but two key refereeing decisions in a nine minute period in the second half helped swing a tight game England’s way.
"I was quite pleased at half-time because we really had to fight against the tide of the game. I thought we'd set it up all right for the second half but you go down a couple of critical moments and it's over.”
"I'm disappointed we didn't get impact through the game. I thought we had a strong pack to finish the game. There were bright individual moments but as a collective we didn't handle that last period."
Australia have no time to lick their wounds as they left for Italy on Sunday where they face their next Test against a fast improving Italy in Turin this weekend.
"There's always going to be a loser on the day so you have to dust yourself off and get going," the formers Reds and Tahs head coach continued.
"That's the life we've chosen. The games come pretty fast, you have to get out there and get on with things. You can't sit and mope; you've got to get on and make adjustments."
The Wallabies also have injury concerns after rugged Brumbies flanker Scott Fardy was knocked out in a tackle on England fullback Mike Brown in the 50th minute. Whether or not Fardy plays in Turin will be subject to concussion protocols.
One bright spot for the Wallabies was the performance of lock James Horwill, who responded to being rested from the captaincy by doing exactly what his coach had asked – lifting his individual performance.
"I thought he was more vigorous for sure," McKenzie said. "He was in the thick of things. He won half a dozen lineouts and was involved in the game."
Vice-captain Quade Cooper was again impressive setting up Israel Folau's break that led to the Wallabies try. McKenzie put Cooper’s two potentially game-changing missed shots at goal down to pressure.
"We were chasing the scoreboard, which we shouldn't have been doing," explained the coach.
"We were a chance of being 16-6 up at one stage and we didn't take it so we dug our own little hole there."
McKenzie was pleased with the Wallabies defence however, confining England to two tries – one through a charge down and another after a contentious obstruction ruling.
"The one thing we did well was we tackled well. They have some renowned ball carriers and I thought we handled them pretty well," he said.