Wales not getting carried away ahead of World Cup

Warren Gatland (Getty)
Warren Gatland (Getty)

Cardiff - Wales will not be getting carried away with themselves ahead of next year's World Cup after a victory over South Africa Saturday ensured a first-ever November cleansweep, according to coach Warren Gatland.

A Welsh team boasting significant strength in depth battled to a convincing 20-11 win over the Springboks to follow up on victories over Scotland, Australia and Tonga.

"It was the toughest game that we've played in the autumn," Gatland said of the outing against the Boks.

"The good thing with these guys at the moment is they get themselves into a bit of a hole, they keep their composure, they're comfortable without the ball," the Kiwi coach said.

"We're in a good place at the moment, we haven't lost at home this year so there's a nice feeling to be in the changing rooms, but we know there's a lot of work to do if we want to have a good World Cup."

Gatland added: "We're not getting too carried away, there'll be the keyboard warriors criticising me, or (assistants) Rob Howley and Robin McBryde -- they take a lot of crap from people.

"We just keep our head down, start thinking about the Six Nations, hopefully have a good Six Nations. It's my last 12 months and I'd like to finish it on a high, for these guys to do as well as they possibly can and leave Welsh rugby in a good position."

The stand-out player in the riveting game at Cardiff's Principality Stadium was flanker Ellis Jenkins, who was drafted into the starting XV as a last-minute replacement for the injured Dan Lydiate.

But his outing came to a bitter end when he was left clutching his leg, prone, after twisting awkwardly in the last play of the game.

"I don't know how he is, he's got scans booked in for Monday, it looks like an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament of the knee), which is not brilliant," Gatland said.

"He's obviously very disappointed. I thought his performance was outstanding.

"I had a one-on-one with him before the game, I thought he was excellent when he came off the bench against Australia, but physically against Tonga last week he didn't impose himself as much as he needed to and he knew that.

"Today was an absolutely outstanding performance and he deserved man-of-match. You have to really feel for him and hopefully it's not too bad and we can rehab him back on to the field as soon as possible."

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus doffed his cap to Wales, who he said were the better team and thoroughly deserving of the win.

"The scoreboard was a really good reflection of the game," said Erasmus, who has transformed the Springbok team after a couple of woeful seasons.

"Wales are number three in the world and they showed it today. The Welsh were totally in sync, aligned tactically and technically... On the day they were just better.

"We would have loved to end the tour with a win," the former Bok flanker said.

"But we struggled to get into their half and when we got there once or twice... there were a few things we did wrong.

"I guess the positive is that if we did all those bad things and we're still in with a chance, six points down on 71 minutes."

Erasmus highlighted inconsistency as his team's weakness, saying that would only improve with experience and marking himself as five-out-of-10.

"We've played 14 and won seven, that's a 50 percent win ratio and that's the only thing that counts where I live," he said of his record since taking over in March this year.

"We've shown on the day when everything's aligned and the guys are all in the same frame of mind, we can beat the All Blacks away and win a series against England."

 

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