Gatland dissatisfied despite win

Published: Saturday 15th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Wales boss Warren Gatland admitted to a sense of disappointment and frustration after his team ground out an uninspiring 17-13 victory over Fiji at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales led 17-6 at the interval thanks to a penalty try and touchdowns from wings George North and Alex Cuthbert, but they failed to score after the 39th minute.

And that was despite Fiji being reduced to 14 men with 27 minutes left after prop Campese Ma’afu was sent off following a second yellow card offence.

World champions New Zealand are next up for Wales in seven days’ time and on this latest evidence, Wales have little chance of toppling a nation they have not beaten since 1953.

“We probably weren’t clinical enough behind, and we had too many turnovers that allowed them to stay in the game. It was a bit of a dogfight,” Gatland said.

“I was frustrated with some of the decisions, which put you under a bit of pressure. We had enough ball, and we perhaps need to be a bit more clinical.

“We made a number of changes and we felt the team was strong. We were pretty frustrated by a number of (officials’) decisions that went on in the middle, and it didn’t help with the flow of the game and continuity.

“In fairness to Fiji, they went out there to try to play at a different tempo to slow the game down, and they were effective at doing that.

“For us, it was the number of turnovers that were frustrating, but we’ve got to be excited and look forward to next week.

“We are expecting the All Blacks to come fully loaded, and it’s going to be tough, but you have got to be excited about playing the best team in the world.”

Wales conceded a late interception try to Fiji centre Nemani Nadolo – he also kicked two penalties and a conversion – despite having a four-man overlap, and they were unlucky to see a Taulupe Faletau try disallowed after full-back Liam Williams was deemed to have infringed during the build-up.

“I thought it was a try,” Gatland added.

“He (Fiji player) has made a tackle, but he hasn’t finished the tackle off and Liam has got up on his feet with momentum and played on. It was good positive rugby.

“There seemed to be a difference between the referee and TMO (television match official), and the two assistant referees didn’t seem to have much of an opinion either. You have just got to put up with those decisions and move on.”

Gatland, meanwhile, said he would seek “clarity” from hooker Richard Hibbard after he made a seven-minute substitute’s appearance for Gloucester in their Aviva Premiership defeat against Harlequins on Friday night.

Wales ruled Hibbard unfit for selection to face Fiji due to an ankle injury, and he was then released back to Gloucester under International Rugby Board rules after they requested he return.

“It wasn’t the permission of us (for Hibbard to play for Gloucester),” said Gatland, who confirmed Hibbard would be coming back into the Wales squad.

“He was presented to us early in the week with an injury, we put him in a (surgical) boot and he wasn’t available for selection.

“Then he was to go back to Gloucester, and it was a surprise to us that on the Wednesday he presents himself to Gloucester being able to be fit to go on the bench.

“I just want to get some clarity on what’s going on. Either you are fit to be available or you are not. If he was fit for Wales, he would have been involved.

“Either he is fit, or he is not. I don’t see how you can somehow become fit halfway through the week. I suppose sometimes that’s pressure that clubs put on, and he was told he would sit on the bench and he would not go on unless there was an injury.

“He went on with eight minutes to go, but I am not sure if that was a tactical replacement or an injury replacement. I need to check on that.

“But the player needs to take some responsibility as well. I don’t blame Gloucester, because they are in their own competition and they want to put out a team that is good enough to win.

“Sometimes, the player needs to be stronger, and that is the conversation we will have with him next week.”

Fiji coach John McKee also admitted to being frustrated, although it was an encouraging display ahead of his team’s next meeting with Wales at the 2015 World Cup.

“We probably didn’t impose ourselves as much as we would have liked in the first half,” McKee said.

“In the second half, it was a tremendously gutsy performance with 14 players, but we are disappointed at losing. We came here to try to win the game.

“Looking towards next year, there is a lot of improvement to come from this group of players. By Rugby World Cup, we will be stronger.”

Published: Saturday 15th November 2014 by The News Editor

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