Tokyo, Sept 29 (AFP/APP):Warren Gatland said his team would deservedly go out and celebrate their nail-biting 29-25 World Cup victory over Australia on Sunday before immediately refocusing on two more victories to top Pool D.
Wales raced out to a 23-8 half-time lead in Tokyo before holding off a spirited Wallaby comeback that took the game to the final whistle, as recent tradition dictates in meetings between the two countries. Gatland dubbed the victory a real confidence-booster ahead of their final pool matches against Fiji and Uruguay. “I’d like to see them celebrate tonight, they deserve to celebrate, it was a tough game and a great win,” said Gatland. “But we’ve only won two games in our group at the moment. We have to make sure we do a job for the other games as well.”
Fiji dominated the Wallabies early on before going down 39-21 in their opening game, but then suffered a shock 30-27 defeat by Uruguay in their last pool match. “We can’t take anyone lightly in this group,” stressed Gatland. “We’ve got to play well in these next two matches. Fiji will be hurting. We saw how well they played against Australia in that first half.”
Uruguay earlier Sunday went down 33-7 to Georgia, whom Wales saw off 43-14 in their opener.
“We’ll make sure we’ve prepared the best possible way we can, don’t take any performance for granted and try to be as clinical as we can,” Gatland said. Turning to the match at Tokyo, the Kiwi coach called it “one of toughest Test matches they’ve played in a long, long time”.
“We played pretty well in the first half, but Australia were really good in the second half, put us under a lot of pressure and had a lot of ball. “It became a typical Wales-Australia clash going right down to the wire! “To win that is very pleasing and that means the pool is our own destiny.”
Gatland praised fly-half Dan Biggar, who opened the scoring with a snap drop-goal after just 37 seconds, and his replacement Rhys Patchell, who scored 14 crucial points. “Game management has improved significantly,” he said. “It was good in the autumn last year and particularly in the Six Nations and we’ve learnt a lot from those experiences. “Even though we were under a lot of pressure in that second-half, I thought our composure and fitness were really good and we soaked up a lot of pressure.”
Gatland confirmed that Biggar failed a head injury assessment after a potentially try-saving tackle on Samu Kerevi into touch and will have to go through the protocols in the coming week before a possible return to the pitch. Fullback Liam Williams also rolled his ankle, but the problem doesn’t look serious, Gatland added.