Gatland blamed the loss on wasted opportunities after fly-half James Hook failed to score a conversion and penalty as the Wallabies emerged victorious in Auckland.
“At this level you have to take your opportunities,” said Gatland. “Unfortunately on these big occasions our goal kicking has let us down.
“If we look at the past those kickers who have been taking goals have been in the 80s [per cent]. James missed one almost in front of the posts. It’s pretty important in the scheme of things and it’s probably what cost us.”
“I’m proud of the way we finished, we’ve just come up short again today, but we’ve enjoyed the tournament. It’s a shame we couldn’t finish it off with the win.”
Wales stand-in captain Gethin Jenkins hailed his sides’ effort and performance at the tournament, describing their semi-final appearance as a remarkable accomplishment.
“To get to the semis is a great achievement for this group of players,” said Jenkins. “We talked about creating history and to come fourth, while it’s not as good as third, is still an improvement on the last couple of World Cups.”
Jenkins also paid tribute to their conquerors at Eden Park on Friday. “We know how good Australia are, and they competed well,” he said.
“We tried to play a little too much rugby and it cost us with turnovers and the tries they scored. But we kept working to the end.”
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