Rugby World Cup 2011: We had ‘great character’ – Gatland
A second-half try from Shane Williams helped Wales secure a Rugby World Cup victory over Samoa
Wales head coach Warren Gatland hailed the “great character” of his side after they overcame Samoa in Pool D in Hamilton on Sunday.
Six points each from James Hook and Rhys Preistland, coupled with a vital second-half try from Shane Williams overturned Samoa’s 10-6 lead at the interval to give Wales a strong chance of qualifying for the quarter finals.
“I thought we showed some great character,” said Gatland after the victory. “We were under pressure at half-time but the boys dug deep.
“We’ve worked really hard the last few months and you’ve got to show people how much it means to us to get out of this and get a W [win] on the board.”
He added: “I thought in the last 15-20 minutes Samoa’s conditioning probably told and they looked to tire a bit and weren’t quite as effective in the second part of the second half as they were in the first. I thought we defended exceptionally well for most of the game.”
Wales captain Sam Warburton reserved praise for Leigh Halfpenny, who replaced Hook in the second half.
“Both sides didn’t disappoint, we knew it was going to be an immensely tough battle,” said Warburton. “Samoa are very physical and it was a tough game for us.
He added: “Leigh [Halfpenny] came on and added some great momentum to the side and Shane finished it off as we’ve seen him do a million times before. If our backs get a sniff they’re pretty handy.”
The victory marks Wales’ first success over Samoa at a World Cup after defeats by the Pacific Islanders in 1991 and 1995.
Gatland’s side now lie in third place in Pool D, trailing defending champions South Africa by four points and Samoa by one, ahead of their next game against Nambia on 26 September in New Plymouth.
Wales: James Hook; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones , Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (captain), Toby Faletau. Replacements: Andy Powell, Leigh Halfpenny, Lloyd Burns, Gethin Jenkins, Bradley Davies, Tavis Knoyle, Scott Williams.
Samoa: Paul Williams; Sailosi Tagicakibau, George Pisi, Seilala Mapusua, Alesana Tuilagi; Tasesa Lavea, Kahn Fotuali’i; Sakaria Taulafo, Mahonri Schwalger (captain), Anthony Perenise, Daniel Leo, Kane Thompson, Ofisa Treviranus, Maurie Faasavalu, George Stowers. Replacements: James So’oialo, Joe Tekori, Jeremy Su’a, Eliota Sapolu-Fuimaono, Census Johnston, Ti’i Paulo, Manaia Salave’a.