Posts Tagged ‘Warren Gatland’


Brave Wales show guts and earn respect

June 14, 2008

Despite playing their socks off Wales just couldn’t put the boks to the sword. Warren Gatland must have been more impressed seeing the Welsh team play with fire in their bellys and fronting up to the Boks. Shane Williams once again showed why he is the best winger in the world and made the boks look foolish for trying to tackle him. Thanks to the BBC for the match report

Wales’ hopes of claiming their first win in South Africa were dashed in the second Test in Pretoria.

First-half tries from Gareth Cooper and a superb effort from Shane Williams had given the Grand Slam champions hope as they pushed their hosts.

But the Springboks proved too strong for Wales with Jean de Villiers going over for two of the world champions’ four tries.

The reliable boot of Butch James was key in securing a 2-0 Test victory.

Coach Warren Gatland was looking for redemption following last week’s 43-17 defeat and they certainly made some amends.

James Hook was placed at full-back and Jamie Roberts at centre for the first time, neither having played there at senior level.

The hosts made four changes, including returns for lock Victor Matfield and scrum-half Ricky Januarie.

And it was Wales who looked much more the lively in the opening stages and got off to the perfect start three minutes in with Stephen Jones kicking the first points.

South Africa responded by camping the Welsh on their own try-line forcing them to defend desperately.

James just narrowly missed going over at the corner after Matfield took out three Welsh defenders with a thunderous charge.

But they got the breakthrough when de Villiers slipped past the visitors’ defence when they failed to clear a line-out. James converted.

That lead was extended on 17 minutes as South Africa looked to take charge.

Juan Smith found space on the right and off-loaded to scrum-half Januarie to claim the second try, which James converted.

Wales immediately cut the 14-3 deficit when Jonathan Thomas cleverly laid off to Gloucester scrum-half Cooper at the front of a line-out and he broke free to race over.

Jones’ conversion put them four points behind, but James had the chance to open up the gap again with a penalty only to miss, ending his run of 10 successful kicks over the two Tests.

And it proved costly as Ospreys wing Williams produced another moment of brilliance with his 43rd Wales try.

The Springboks lost possession just inside their own half, Williams picked up the loose ball and raced past five players to go over near the corner.

Williams was then called into action at the other end just before the break when he intercepted James’ pass.

But James made sure South Africa went in ahead at the break when Blues centre Jamie Roberts was penalised at the line.

Jones did have the chance to change that in overtime, but sent his long-range penalty wide.

Wales came out on the attack in the second half enjoying more time on the ball, but it was the hosts who secured the first points.

Roberts infringed at the ruck allowing James to kick South Africa into a 20-15 lead.

But Wales were not ready to give up and Jones clawed back another three points after Mtawarira failed to roll away at a ruck.

And they went ahead with 20 minutes to go when Jones successfully kicked again.

The Springboks brought on all of their big-guns and regained the lead through another James kick.

It seemed to give them some more impetus and Percy Montgomery was halted at the line before de Villiers made sure diving over with James converting.

They continued to press and finally got their fourth score through Bismarck Du Plessis after a quick penalty.

On paper, the win looked far more convincing for South Africa but Wales showed that they do still have the fight that made them champions of the northern hemisphere.


Triple Crown Goes To Wales

March 8, 2008

_44478257_shane_try_huw203.jpgI know a lot of you are not fervent rugby fans. But after a hard fought contest Wales became triple crown winners. Next weekend decides who is the RBS six nations champion. This must have made Warren Gatland so proud.