Webb: Wales boosted by SA success


Published: Sunday 30th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Rhys Webb believes Wales have given themselves “a good springboard” for the RBS 6 Nations Championship after ending six years of hurt against major southern hemisphere opposition.

A 12-6 victory over South Africa was their first success against the Springboks for 15 years, and only a second since fixtures began between the countries in 1906.

It also ended an abysmal run of 22 defeats in a row at the hands of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, giving Wales a major send-off into their Six Nations opener on February 6 when England arrive at the Millennium Stadium.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny’s four penalties sunk South Africa, and Wales scrum-half Webb said: “This win has been there waiting for us.

“We are just happy to pick it up, and we will go back to our regions now and hopefully come out firing for the Six Nations. It’s definitely a good springboard.

“We targeted the four games (in the autumn series), but we slipped up against Australia and New Zealand in games that we could have won. Everyone was positive after the performance against New Zealand, and we took it into the game with South Africa and came away with a victory.

“We will learn a lot from the campaign, particularly in respect of playing for the full 80 minutes. That’s the big thing for us, playing and concentrating for the whole game. We did that against South Africa.

“We slipped up against Australia and New Zealand, but to be fair, we haven’t been far away in those games. We pushed New Zealand for 69 minutes last week, and to finally get that win against one of these teams feels pretty special.”

Webb and his half-back partner Dan Biggar were arguably Wales’ star performers of the past month, and it is a combination that will be integral to Welsh hopes of Six Nations and World Cup success next year.

Webb scored tries against Australia and New Zealand, while Biggar saved his best until last, delivering a man-of-the-match display that was built on raw defensive courage and supreme tactical appreciation.

“Dan has been on fire in the last couple of games, putting us in the right places,” Webb added.

“He is a big voice on the field and he’s a good leader as well. Like me, he tells the forwards where he wants them to go and how we want to finish the game.

“We came together in a bit of a huddle in the last 10 minutes to say what we needed to do. Everyone bought into it, and we came away with the victory. It is such a relief, but it has been coming.”

Wales built the foundations for their triumph up-front, where the likes of props Gethin Jenkins and Samson Lee, lock Alun-Wyn Jones and skipper Sam Warburton took the fight to a Springboks side that struggled to match such intensity.

And as the click ticked down, Wales crucially did not panic as they preserved a six-point lead given them by Halfpenny’s unrelenting accuracy.

“From the outside, you could say monkey and back in the same sentence,” second-row talisman Jones said, reflecting on collecting an overdue southern hemisphere scalp.

“We’ve finished the autumn campaign on a positive, but it can’t paper over the areas we need to work on. There will be pats on backs, but we know there is a lot to work on.

“It’s a fine line between arrogance and expectation. You have to choose the right one of those when you win.

“We need to be good winners and realise that there are parts of that game where we could have kicked on, and that is where we are at.

“I thought we were 20 minutes away last week (against New Zealand), and we found that crucial 10 minutes this week, so if you split the difference, we aren’t far away.”

And Jones’ second-row partner Jake Ball added: ” It was a massive arm-wrestle, but everyone worked really well. You could tell by the look on everyone’s faces afterwards – it was a massive release of pressure.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than England-Wales, so it will be a hell of contest, especially given the World Cup group (Wales are in the same pool as England and Australia)

“Psychologically, we have shown we can compete with these teams, so it proves to us that we can do a job on England as well.”

Published: Sunday 30th November 2014 by The News Editor

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