Six Nations 2014: Warren Gatland ‘pretty satisfied’ with Wales’ start
Six Nations 2014: Wales head coach Warren Gatland is satisfied with his side's 23-15 win over Italy on Saturday
Warren Gatland believes Wales’ attempts to play attractive rugby were to blame for allowing Italy back into the match after a 23-15 over the Azzurri.
The defending champions held a commanding 17-3 lead at half-time before Italy rallied to limited the hosts to a eight-point victory at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
It wasn’t an easy run-out and it was tough, which was the way we wanted it
“We are pretty satisfied. There were some real positives, and there were some things to work on,” Gatland said.
“We definitely kept them in the game in terms of a couple of crucial turnovers and an intercept, but we are off to a reasonable start and I wouldn’t be surprised if Italy win a few games in this competition.
“It will focus the minds for next week. It wasn’t an easy run-out and it was tough, which was the way we wanted it.
“There are just are a few things for us to fix up on in terms of making sure we are a bit more accurate and clinical. We know we get stronger as a tournament goes on. It’s that first one, and now we can look forward to the rest of it.”
George North and Rhys Priestland were guilty of failing to finish good attacking moves which could have killed off the match, but Wales faced criticism for gifting the Italians two tries in the second half.
Gatland added: “We can’t complain about the ambition of the players in wanting to play some good rugby. We moved the ball from within our own 22 on a couple of occasions; a couple of kick-aheads that had legs put us under pressure, couple of turnovers, but those things are all fixable for us and I think we’ll be spot on for next week.”
Wales got off to the worst possible start in last year’s championship as Ireland ran riot at the Millennium Stadium to rack up a 30-3 lead in 43 minutes, but under eventually found their feet to return 19 unanswered points and then sweeping all aside including a surprising, dominant 30-3 win over England in the final match to hold on to their title.
This championship could also get better for the reigning champions as it goes on with Wales’ lengthy injury list receding by the day.
Captain Sam Warburton came off the bench for his first match since November, while centre Jonathan Davies also came through an LV= Cup match for the Scarlets and could be in contention for the match-day 23 against Ireland.
It’s going to be tough for Ireland next week because they’ve only got a six-day turnaround
Only try-scorer Alex Cuthbert and Luke Charteris picked up minor injuries against Italy and Gatland is pleased to get Italy out of the way ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash against Ireland in Dublin.
“We know we get stronger as the tournament goes on and we get better just naturally having more time together, so that’s our first one and we can look forward to the rest. It’s a massive challenge for us as defending champions for the last two years; every team is going to be targeting us and they’ll get up for it, and we wanted to get this game under our belt and focus on next week,” Gatland said.
“It’s going to be tough for Ireland next week because they’ve only got a six-day turnaround, so we’ve spoken about making sure we recover right and then hopefully look forward to some decent weather to train in next week. It’s going to be a huge game for both teams; particularly if Ireland do manage to beat Scotland then you’ve got the two teams coming together from opening victories in the first weekend, so it’ll be interesting to see how they go.”
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