Gatland warning for Wallabies


Published: Saturday 8th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Wales coach Warren Gatland warned Australia they would face a “different beast” at the 2015 World Cup after the Wallabies won a Millennium Stadium thriller 33-28 on Saturday.

Bernard Foley’s late drop-goal and penalty secured Australia’s 10th consecutive victory in this fixture and in that sequence this was the ninth Wallabies win by margin of less than 10 points.

The two sides will meet again at the pool stage of the World Cup at Twickenham next October, in a group also including tournament hosts England, and Gatland believes the extra preparation time he will get with his squad will prove invaluable.

“When we face them in the World Cup we think it’s going to be a different beast, a different animal is going to be facing them in that pool game,” Gatland said.

“We said our time together will be a big upward curve and we will continue to get better.

“The frustrating thing about being an international coach is you don’t get that time together, but having that four-five month period from May-June to October means you can get that in-depth coaching and conditioning into the players.

“The players will be clear about things, that’s important and something to be excited about.”

Gatland insisted Wales would improve during the autumn international series with Fiji the visitors next weekend ahead of sterner visits from New Zealand and South Africa.

He said the coaching staff had pushed the players “right to the edge” in the build-up to the Australia game and he was delighted with the intensity and tempo of Wales’ performance as well as what he saw as improvements in the scrummaging and line-out departments.

“We were pretty restricted to what we could do in the last few weeks so I think that performance ticked a lot of boxes,” Gatland said.

“We matched their intensity and tempo and we’ll only get better and stronger when we have that preparation time.

“We’ll see a big upward curve in this team as a group and as individuals going into the World Cup and the question is, how much upside has Australia got?

“I said before, if we were in a different group in the World Cup our focus would be a little bit different but out focus in on making sure we qualify out of that group.”

Wales actually had the edge 4-3 on try count and Gatland said that was another source of comfort after a 21st consecutive Test defeat against one of the three southern hemisphere super-powers.

“We haven’t done that for a while against one of these big teams and we looked comfortable on the ball,” Gatland said.

“Australia are hard to break down and keep the ball well themselves but our ball retention will get better.

“The pleasing thing is we’ve encouraged a bit more risk-taking and off-loading and our decision-making got behind them a couple of times.

“I’m not happy with the result but I’m happy with the performance and there’s something to build on.”

Gatland said Wales will have to monitor the fitness of full-back Leigh Halfpenny (concussion) and Dan Biggar (groin) in the next few days but the Kiwi coach is likely to make several changes for Fiji’s visit to Cardiff next Saturday.

Wales captain Sam Warburton said after another narrow defeat: “Everyone knows – in the staff and the squad – that we’ve got the ability to beat these teams.

“You’re not going to be consistently close for nine or 10 matches and it not go our way one time. It’s just a matter of when, not if.”

Australia coach Michael Chieka said his side’s victory would have no impact on their World Cup collision with Wales in 11 months’ time.

“I’ve never seen one game have an impact on another one so far away,” he said. ” But the way we prepare, I like to think in tight games it will always go our way.

“The Welsh are a good team and it always seems to come down to the wire, so it was nice to come out on top against a quality team.”

Cheika paid tribute to Foley whose 18-point haul included a well-taken drop goal which the coach admitted was not the traditional Australian way of doing things.

“We don’t practice drop goals so Bernard sitting back and taking it was good play – and he delivered,” Chieka said.

“The performance wasn’t perfect but we created some good situations and I thought the forwards carried the ball quite well, especially the replacement forwards who got us into good field positions at the end.

“Trust comes when you do things more and more often. Hopefully we can build on that this trip and at the same time grab a win here and there.”

Published: Saturday 8th November 2014 by The News Editor

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