Biggar lauds Wales character

p29332Sport-8-1

Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Dan Biggar has hailed Wales’ monumental mental and physical effort that underpinned the finest defensive display in RBS 6 Nations history.

Wales made a Six Nations record 250 tackles – including one remarkable second-half spell when they successfully repelled 32 attacking phases – that helped reduce Ireland’s Grand Slam bid to rubble at the Millennium Stadium.

Giant lock Luke Charteris hit the heights of making 31 tackles himself – breaking former France flanker Serge Betsen’s previous Six Nations-best in the process – while skipper Sam Warburton, number eight Taulupe Faletau and lock Alun-Wyn Jones were not far behind as Ireland huffed and puffed, but could not break Wales’ heroic stonewall resistance.

Centre Scott Williams’ 61st-minute try, plus a Biggar drop-goal and five Leigh Halfpenny penalties secured a 23-16 verdict, giving Wales only their third victory over Ireland in Cardiff since 1983 and taking them into next Saturday’s Six Nations final round as live title contenders.

“It just seemed like wave after wave was coming at us,” fly-half Biggar said.

“That we held out was a huge testament to the work we have put in and showed how together we are as a squad.

“To come through against probably the best team in Europe was a massive relief and a boost to our confidence.

“I didn’t think there was anything between the two sides, but maybe we wanted it that fraction more and maybe that showed in those 32 phases.”

Biggar took a hefty blow to his shoulder during Wales’ prolonged third-quarter rearguard, but he mirrored his team’s collective courage by battling on through the pain barrier.

“It was just a stinger, and I was trying to hide on the wing for as long as possible and hoping they wouldn’t pick me out then, because I don’t think I would have been of much use,” he added.

“It was a bang, and it’s absolutely fine now.

“I don’t think I would have been the number one person on Monday morning if I had stayed down or dropped out of the defensive line for a bump on the shoulder, so I am glad to have got up and done something.

“We took so much confidence from keeping them out when they went through those 32 phases. That is what gave us a lift once we had the penalty (that ended Ireland’s attacking stint). We just managed to dig in and find that extra 10 per cent.

“We knew if we could score then, it would be a real game-changer. Luckily we did, and Scott Williams made a great impact after coming off the bench.”

Biggar, meanwhile, paid tribute to Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards, whose defensive blueprint was followed to the letter by players who will arrive at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico to face Italy next Saturday with hopes of landing a third Six Nations title in four years.

Points difference currently favours their rivals for silverware England and Ireland, but Wales have at least given themselves a fighting chance.

“Shaun was over the moon,” Biggar said. “He doesn’t give too much away, but I think he was extremely proud of that effort.

“What we have got in this camp is that if you have spoken about something and make a mistake, everyone has a licence to let someone have it a little bit.

“I think that’s great. You need that in teams, and especially from leaders to say ‘come on, that’s not acceptable’ or the other way around, and Shaun is certainly one of them.

“He is an absolute leader, he wants us to be the best we can be. He drives high standards and he’s hard.

“You go out there not wanting to make a mistake, not because you are going to get a row off him, but because you don’t want to let him down. That’s a testament to him and how he has been a huge part of why we have been so successful over the last few years.

“Hopefully, we can win in Italy and other results will go our way.

“Maybe Scotland can do us a favour at home to Ireland, and France against England at Twickenham. We know we have to score some points in Italy, but it’s all on. This win has given us a chance of the title.

“If we can win it, from everybody writing us off that first weekend (when England won in Cardiff), it will be one of this team’s best achievements.”

Wales, though, will not be unchanged for Italy, with prop Samson Lee sidelined through an Achilles’ injury that saw him carried off just 14 minutes into the contest against Ireland, while front-row colleague Gethin Jenkins looks set to miss out because of hamstring trouble.

Aaron Jarvis and Rob Evans, respective replacements for Lee and Jenkins against Ireland, are likely to start in Rome.

Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search