Warren Gatland: Wales weren’t clinical enough against Fiji
Wales head coach reveals his disappointment after 17-13 win over Pacific Islanders at Millennium Stadium
Warren Gatland admitted that he was left disappointed as Wales struggled to a 17-13 win over Fiji at the Millennium Stadium.
The Wales head coach was also left grumbling by some curious decisions by the officials which robbed Wales of two tries early in the second half.
“We probably weren’t clinical enough behind, and we had too many turnovers that allowed them to stay in the game. It was a bit of a dogfight,” Gatland said.
“I was frustrated with some of the decisions [from the officials], which put you under a bit of pressure.
“We had enough ball, and we perhaps need to be a bit more clinical.
“We made a number of changes and we felt the team was strong. We were pretty frustrated by a number of decisions that went on in the middle, and it didn’t help with the flow of the game and continuity.”
Gatland made eight changes to the starting XV from last week’s defeat to Australia, but it was a strong line-up boasting 560 international appearances up against a Tier 2 nation, and the Kiwi praised the Flying Fijians for their efforts 50 years since their first visit to Cardiff as they continually forced Wales into handling errors, forcing 22 turnovers.
“In fairness to Fiji, they went out there to try to play at a different tempo to slow the game down,” he added. “They were effective at doing that.
“For us, it was the number of turnovers that were frustrating, but we’ve got to be excited and look forward to next week.”
Wales led 17-6 at the break through tries from wingers George North and Alex Cuthbert, as well as a penalty try, but despite Fiji playing 28 minutes of the second half with 10 men after former Cardiff Blues prop Campese Ma’afu was shown a second yellow card, Wales were unable to score another point.
Scarlets outside-half Rhys Priestland threw an intercept to big Fijian centre Nemani Nadolo, who delightfully returned it 60 metres for their only try of the match, as well as adding the conversion to his two first-half penalty goals to set up a thrilling end, but Wales managed to hang on to record a first victory in this year’s Dove Men Series.
On another day, against superior opposition, Wales would have been routed, but the Fijians also lacked a clinical edge when they had chances to attack the Welsh tryline.
Despite the nature of the win—Wales’ first since Test match win since March’s demolition job on Scotland—the Kiwi insisted that Wales are looking forward to welcoming New Zealand to the Millennium Stadium next week, after a largely changed side struggled to defeat Scotland at BT Murrayfield.
“We are expecting the All Blacks to come fully loaded,” he said.
“It’s going to be tough, but you have got to be excited about playing the best team in the world.”