Saturday 1 October 2016

Fresh injuries leave Gatland cursing luck as England loom

Wales 54 Uruguay 9

Matt Majendie

Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30

Wales coach Warren Gatland has a worrying injury list
Wales coach Warren Gatland has a worrying injury list

Warren Gatland has tried to push Wales' underdog status at every juncture leading up to the World Cup.

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After an already diminished squad turned still further into a camp of walking wounded, that status looks set to be cemented for next Saturday's showdown with England.

Wales lost both Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb the last time they played - in their final warm-up game against Italy - and they suffered further injury blows in this victory over Uruguay in Cardiff that was not as convincing as it perhaps should have been.

Liam Williams, the replacement for Halfpenny, failed to see out the first half following a blow to his thigh.

His chances of playing at Twickenham will be assessed today.

Cory Allen, man of the match with a hat-trick of tries, hit the turf in frustration before being helped off the field with a hamstring injury which looks likely to rule him out of the rest of the World Cup. He will have a scan today.

Replacement Dan Lydiate came off with a blow to the head, while Samson Lee, playing his first match since rupturing his Achilles tendon, failed to come out for the second half because of a tight calf - a complaint that also brought a premature end to Paul James' afternoon.

If Williams is not fully fit, Gatland hinted that he could remove one of the five props from the squad to make way for another backline player as back-up. But he refuted suggestions that Wales' notoriously tough pre-tournament regime was to blame for the injuries.

"Sometimes you get bad luck and we've had that," he said.

"You can't blame the preparation for Leigh and Rhys getting injured. They're just unlucky.

"We're happy with how we prepared but we've picked up a few knocks."

While the injuries were of grave concern to Gatland, there was also a sense of frustration in the unconvincing nature of Wales' victory.

Despite reaching a half-century of points in injury time, it was a performance littered with errors and without the flow expected against a team ranked 19th in the world.

Upset

There was even briefly a feeling Uruguay might emulate Japan and cause another upset as fly-half Felipe Berchesi kicked two penalties for an early 6-0 lead.

That was the score from the ninth minute to the 15th but it was as close as the South Americans came to posing an attacking threat in their first World Cup appearance for 12 years.

Uruguay coach Pablo Lemoine said Japan's shock victory over South Africa had given them a fillip.

He said: "In the last 20 days, we've been in Japan for two Test matches and felt that, if they can do it, we can."

WALES - Liam Williams (M Morgan 36); A Cuthbert, C Allen (Lloyd Williams 55), S Williams, H Amos; R Priestland, G Davies; P James (A Jarvis 32), S Baldwin (K Owens 62), S Lee (T Francis 40); J Ball, L Charteris (D Day 47); S Warburton (D Lydiate 59), J Tipuric, J King (R Moriarty 47). URUGUAY - G Mieres; S Gibernau, J Prada (F Bulanti 74), A Vilaseca, R Silva; F Berchesi, A Ormaechea (A Duran 74); A Corral (M Sanguinetti 77), C Arboleya (G Kessler 77), M Saqario (O Duran 72); S Vilaseca (A Alonso 74), J Zerbino (F Lamanna 62); J Gaminara, M Beer (J De Freitas 59), A Nieto.

REF R Poite (France).

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