Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gatland glad as Wales left with a shot at second place



Gatland glad as Wales left with a shot at second place

Warren Gatland’s Wales will take the Six Nations runners-up spot behind already crowned champions Ireland with a bonus-point win over France on March 17. AFP
Warren Gatland’s Wales will take the Six Nations runners-up spot behind already crowned champions Ireland with a bonus-point win over France on March 17. AFP

Gatland glad as Wales left with a shot at second place

Warren Gatland heads into the final round of the Six Nations something of a relieved man after Wales gave themselves a shot at finishing second in this season’s Championship.

The Wales coach saw his decision to make 10 changes to his starting side rewarded with a 38-14, bonus-point win over Italy in Cardiff on Sunday.

Had Wales failed to beat the struggling Azzurri, after successive defeats by England and Ireland, the New Zealander would have faced an uncomfortable few days leading up to Saturday’s home finale against a resurgent France, for all he might have learnt some valuable lessons regarding squad depth ahead of next year’s World Cup.

But instead Wales will kick off knowing another bonus-point win over Les Bleus will assure them of the runners-up spot behind already crowned champions Ireland.

Wales enjoyed several sparkling moments while running in five tries during their 12th consecutive victory over Italy but, unsurprisingly given so many new combinations, errors also crept into their game.

“It was a job done, it’s what we wanted,” Gatland said after a match where Wales wing George North bagged a try double, with Hadleigh Parkes, Cory Hill and Justin Tipuric also crossing Italy’s line.

“We’ve got a six-day turnaround and we’ve given players an opportunity,” the twice British and Irish Lions boss explained.

“To make 10 changes, score the points we did and win comfortably was the pleasing aspect.”

Jekyll and Hyde

Former Ireland coach Gatland added: “At times we looked absolutely outstanding and great, and at other times we lacked cohesion.

“That’s probably to be expected when guys have not played together.

“But we achieved what we wanted to do, to get a bonus point and have our destiny in our own hands next week to finish second in the Championship.”

Wales won on Sunday despite being reduced to 13 men early in the second half.

Liam Williams was shown a yellow card just before the break for a high tackle on opposing fullback Matteo Minozzi, while scrum-half Gareth Davies followed him into the sin bin soon after the interval for a deliberate knock-on.

Williams’s temporary exclusion was met by a chorus of boos from a crowd of over 65,000, but Gatland had no complaints about the decision of French referee Jerome Garces.

“I thought the yellow card was fair – we had no problems with it,” the coach said.

“I was disappointed in that if he needed to make the tackle did he need to go that high?

When Williams’s 10 minutes on the sidelines was up, Gatland kept him off the field and sent first-choice fullback Leigh Halfpenny from the bench to finish the game instead.

“The thing with Liam is that he’s an emotional player, it brings the best out of him,” Gatland said.

“But we couldn’t afford with that time on the clock for something else to happen. If he had put his hand out like Gareth did, you are potentially looking at a red card. So it was sending a subtle message really.”

Italy ‘will battle’

This latest reverse meant Italy had now lost 16 successive Championship matches – only France with a run of 17 straight defeats from 1911-1920 have endured a longer losing streak in the Five or Six Nations.

But Italy will equal that unwanted record if they are beaten by Scotland in Rome on Saturday.

As it is, the Azzurri are already guaranteed to finish bottom of the table for the 13th time in 19 seasons since joining the tournament in 2000.

But defiant Italy coach Conor O’Shea insisted better days were on the horizon for his beleaguered side.

“We are doing a heck of a lot, we will fight every battle and improve every week,” he said.

The former Ireland fullback added: “If you go around the clubs, see the under-20s beating Wales, and look at the players coming through, we are building a team and we are building a system piece by piece.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration