Tuesday 20 February 2018

Gatland stresses intensity

Emma stoney in Dunedin

Wales coach Warren Gatland says his team must learn to play high-intensity rugby for 80 minutes if they are going to compete with the likes of New Zealand.

The tourists slumped to a 42-9 defeat at Carisbrook yesterday after a good opening 40 minutes had left them trailing just 15-9 at half time. But they failed to register a point in the second half as the All Blacks took control thanks to a superb performance from out-half Daniel Carter, who scored two tries and kicked four conversions and three penalties for a 27-point haul.

In all New Zealand scored five tries, two in the first half, from Keven Mealamu and Cory Jane, and three in the second -- replacement back Richard Kahui also got on the score-sheet.

"The way we played in the first half was really pleasing," said Gatland. "We put the All Blacks under a lot of pressure but they were outstanding in the second half where they were able to punish us from turnovers or creating chances. There were positives from the first half but it's just making sure we learn to live with a team and maintain that for longer periods. Fifty minutes wasn't good enough, we've got to be able to sustain that intensity for 80 minutes."

Wales did create some try-scoring opportunities in the first half but had to settle for a drop-goal and penalty from out-half Stephen Jones that sandwiched a penalty effort from half-way by wing Leigh Halfpenny.

It was the third successive match in which Wales had been kept try-less by New Zealand. "They are a difficult team for us to score against," admitted Gatland. "We did create a couple of chances but we didn't take the opportunity to convert those. There are no complaints about the result."

Gatland was less gracious about Jane's brilliant breakaway try which came midway through the first half when Wales were trailing just 10-6 -- he felt the hosts had stolen the ball illegally at the previous ruck. "It was a big moment in the game where I felt Conrad Smith had come in from the side," he complained.

Gatland does have some injury worries heading into next weekend's second Test in Hamilton, with Jones and centre Andrew Bishop having X-rays on hand injuries.

His opposite number Graham Henry also has concerns over lock Anthony Boric (cheek) and full-back Israel Dagg (concussion) and conceded they could be missing at Waikato Stadium.

Hamilton try settles Scots

Scotland withstood some intense second-half pressure to secure their first series victory in the southern hemisphere as Jim Hamilton's early try set them on course for a 13-9 victory in the second Test against Argentina in Mar del Plata.

Hamilton forced the ball over as Scotland took less than three minutes to do what they failed to achieve during their victory last weekend and breach their hosts' try line.

Argentina bounced back quickly and Felipe Contepomi kicked two penalties but the home side's poor discipline allowed Scotland to gain control for the rest of the first half, although Parks missed two of three penalty attempts.

The hosts dominated the second half but Scotland restricted them to one penalty goal and Parks extended their precarious lead in the 74th minute with an excellent penalty following a rare foray forward.

The hard-earned triumph in torrential rain secured a third consecutive away victory for Scotland, their best run on the road since 1982, which began in Dublin and continued when Parks kicked all of Scotland's points during a 24-16 win in Tucuman.

Sunday Independent

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