Young Osprey Joe Thomas scored the Welsh only try in the narrow 18 - 17 defeat by New Zealand
A try from young Osprey Joe Thomas and the boot of Dan Jones meant the Welsh U20's lead throughout the final game of the pool stages of the Junior World Championship, but a last minute penalty by New Zealand cost them a spot in the semi finals.
Dan Jones took the game by the scruff of the neck from the first whistle to kick Wales into the lead before setting up Joe Thomas. His four penalties put Wales 17-15 ahead with 12 minutes remaining, and the power of the Welsh pack almost saw them home, before Barrett landed penalty at the death to send Wales to a 18-17 loss and out of semi-final contention.
It could have been so different for Jason Strange's Six Nations champions if they had held onto a 17 point lead in the first match with Ireland, and survived the All Blacks onslaught. But instead, they face two play-offs to determine their final position.
But Phillips hailed his troops for a much improved performance after a battling victory over Georgia in round two.
He said: "I thought it was a great game of rugby and either team could have taken it. We play very well coming off a disappointing performance against Georgia, we had things to improve on and I can only commend the boys for coming out and putting on such a good performance.
"It's disappointing not to make the semi-finals but we came out and played three times better than we did in our last two games. There is always a silver lining and that is our performance today. We've got two games left in this championship and we're going to work hard and go into them as if they are finals. We'll still really enjoy the rest of the tournament."