By Paul Jones
Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys insists his team are heading in the right direction ahead of their World Cup showdown with Australia.
Former Wales wing Shane Williams claimed the 28-8 Pool C victory over Portugal showed Wales had “no direction, no cohesion” after they only claimed a bonus point late on.
“It was good to see Gareth Anscombe back at fly-half, but he chipped over the top a couple of times. Really? We needed to do more with the ball in hand, but we couldn’t get on the front foot,” was the assessment of the ITV pundit.
But forwards coach Humphreys believes 10 points from two games is a decent start to the tournament, regardless of performances.
“We are delighted to get 10 points from the first two games. If you had offered that to us before we came out here, we would have taken your hand off,” said Humphreys.
Assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys has predicted ‘a hell of a game when Rugby World Cup rivals Wales and Australia go head-to-head in Lyon next Sunday. https://t.co/oG00V65H1h
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“There were a lot of boys who hadn’t played for a while, we made a lot of changes. It was great that we got a bonus-point, and they’ve also got a fair bit of game-time.”
“We made a load of changes to give boys game-time and also to put them in position to go for selection against Australia. To get the bonus-point in the manner that we did right at the end showed the resilience and trying to find a way to win.”
Australia and Fiji are due to meet on Sunday evening, where a victory for the Wallabies would put Wales in a very strong position for progress towards the quarter-finals.
A win for the Fijians, however, would open the pool into a three-horse race between Wales, the Wallabies and Fiji and make the Wales-Australia fixture one that Wales could not afford to lose.
“It’s going to be as hell of a game,” added Humphreys about next Sunday’s contest.
“There’s going to be a lot riding on that. I thought Australia were excellent in the first game.
“We have got an eight-day turnaround so hopefully we will have a full squad to choose from. A few boys have rested up after a tough Fiji game. It was always going to be a massive game.”
Pressure still on Wales despite narrow win over Fiji – Jonathan Humphreys https://t.co/jSm2uuuiy5
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“It will be interesting to see how they come out. Eddie Jones has always got something different in his game. But Eddie is not playing in the game. The players he has available to him right now are a hell of a squad.”
“The first game was obviously massive for us. As a squad we really came together after that game saying ‘it’s a good start’. The support the team that played against Portugal had from the rest tells us the spirit in the squad is there.
“We’re in a pretty good place but we know we need to improve and get better if we are to do the job against Australia.”
It was not pretty at times against Portugal, and Wales only claimed the bonus-point try they coveted when number eight Taulupe Faletau scored in the dying seconds, but Warren Gatland’s team now have 10 points from 10 in Pool C.
“If someone said you would have 10 points from the first two games, we would have been pretty happy with that,” said head coach Gatland.
“Look, there were aspects of today where we probably tried to play a little too much rugby early on and didn’t play a bit more territory and be a bit more direct.
“But some of those players haven’t had a lot of rugby. I just said to them in the changing room, ‘job done’. We’ve got the five points.
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“They had thrown everything at us in those first 20 minutes. They probably didn’t have the same opportunities in the second half in terms of putting us under that sort of pressure.
“When we ran hard and won those collisions, that is when we looked dangerous. Probably at times we were a little bit lateral.
“It’s good we have given everyone in the squad an opportunity and some rugby. We have a little bit more time in terms of preparation before Australia and we can start looking forward to that game.”
Gatland confirmed flanker Tommy Reffell was suffering from a tight calf muscle that saw him pulled out of the starting line-up just minutes before kick-off, with Jac Morgan called up.
“Tommy said his calf was a bit tight,” Gatland added.
“I think he was still quite keen to take the field, but if he pulled that calf, that would have been his World Cup over.
“To put Jac in as a straight replacement with very limited preparation, I thought he was good.”
This is going to be good
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