Embed from Getty Images

Wales Peak Early And Not For Long . . . But Warren Gatland Has Other Worries On His Mind

Wales’ day in the sun as the world’s No.1 is already over but Warren Gatland is more concerned about what today brings from his medical department.

The Wales coach watched his team fail to live up their most recent billing as the top-ranked team in the world as they lost 33-19 to England at Twickenham.

Far more worrying for Gatland than being knocked off a perch vacated temporarily by New Zeland was the knee injury that forced Gareth Anscome to be helped, limping heavily, from the field.

The Wales fly-half will have more checks on the extent of the injury on Monday and Gatland – whose team’s 14-match winning streak is now over – said: “I spoke to the physios, and he has got to get a scan.

“If it is just a strain of the ligament, then he will be out for a few weeks, and obviously we will know more details after the scan.”

Wales’ defeat ended an unbeaten run that had stretched 14 Tests and meant they were unable to officially claim the world number one spot above the All Blacks as the updated charts are not produced over weekends.

England’s directness and power was poorly dealt with early on and although Wales recovered well – and appeared the fitter team around the hour mark – their own mistakes and England’s superiority in the set-pieces means the All Blacks are not feeling downgraded after surprise their defeat to Australia.

“It’s a nice accolade (world number one), but the biggest prize is a couple of months away in Japan,” Gatland added.

“Whoever wins the World Cup is the number one in the world.

“We got back into the game at 24-19, and I thought we were going to win from there. We started creating a lot of momentum, and I was pleased with that.

Embed from Getty Images

“We need to look at ourselves in terms of a few penalties we gave away around the fringes, giving up soft three points.

“I was disappointed with that first half with too many turnovers. We just didn’t keep possession for long enough periods to create the momentum we needed.

“England did what they’re good at. Their scrum was excellent, they drove the lineouts well and they were pretty direct in the way they played.

“We’ve got some things to tidy up on to negate that. They’ve scored a try from our errors.”

The two teams now meet again at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, where Gatland has suggested he will select another strong side with most of the team being asked to go again in order to replicate the six-day turnaround between games they will face at the World Cup.

Eddie Jones celebrated a successful start to England’s own preparations before launching an attack on World Rugby over inconsistency among match officials.

Potential quarter-final opponents Wales were dispatched by an experimental side delivered before Jones turned on Sunday’s referee at Twickenham, Mathieu Raynal.

The talking point was provided by the red card shown to New Zealand’s Scott Barrett for a shoulder charge to the head of Michael Hooper against Australia on Saturday – a dismissal Jones described as “ridiculous”.

When asked about England debutant Willi Heinz, Jones said: “Willi’s a good, mature player. I thought there was an issue with the referee.

“We saw a red card (on Saturday) which affected the game. I thought it was ridiculous. A bloke gets tackled, he goes to be second man in and his shoulder hits his head and he gets a red card. We can’t have that in the game.

“There has to be some common sense applied, but maybe common sense was applied (on Sunday) really well.

“But what I’m saying is that we need to have some consistency and common sense. I think it’s really important for the game.

Embed from Getty Images

“In the World Cup if you lose a player through a red card as New Zealand did (on Saturday), it makes the game very difficult. I thought we saw two instances (on Sunday) where that could have happened.

“I urge World Rugby, although I don’t think they do anything at great pace, to get some consistency in that area.

“Otherwise we’ll have games being destroyed by an inconsistent official making a decision on a law that’s not clear.”

Jones declined to identify which incidents against Wales he was referring to.

Expertly marshalled by fly-half and captain George Ford, England established a healthy 24-7 lead through tries by Billy Vunipola, Joe Cokanasiga and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Wales responded with a superb score from Gareth Davies, plus others in the second-half by George North and Wyn Jones, but just as the result seemed to be coming into their grasp, England did enough to take it away.

With three more warm-up Tests to come before England depart for the World Cup, Jones refused to get carried away.

“The World Cup is six weeks away. We’re conscious of that,” said Jones, who insisted Tom Curry’s shoulder injury was only minor.

“If you want to go as far as you can in the tournament, which we do, that’s seven weeks. So that’s 13 weeks in total.

“Momentum is a hard thing to carry for 13 weeks. All we’re worried about is getting better all the time.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *