Six Nations

Wales rue flat second '40'

2015-02-07 09:08
Warren Gatland (Gallo Images)

Cardiff - Wales coach Warren Gatland was left to rue an unstructured second half that yielded no points as England turned the screw for a breath-taking 21-16 victory in the Six Nations opener on Friday.

The home side made a blistering start to the game at the Millennium Stadium, Rhys Webb crossing for an early try converted by Leigh Halfpenny, who also added a penalty for a 10-0 lead after nine minutes.

But a sometime complacent Wales side failed to keep the pressure on, and England responded with an Anthony Watson try and George Ford penalty before producing a masterful second-half in which they scored 13 unanswered points for the win.

"We had a good first half, but the second half we started poorly," said Gatland, whose side showed just two changes from the one that beat South Africa 12-6 in the final Test of the November series.

"We put ourselves under a lot of pressure in that second half.

"We were comfortable at half-time, but they've come back and played pretty well in the second half."

Gatland added: "We're disappointed... They're tight games and you have to be accurate."

England had arrived in Cardiff with a raft of first choice players at home through injuries, but Gatland was keen to play up English strength in depth.

"They've got a number of injuries but a huge amount of depth as well," the New Zealander said, picking out flank James Haskell and centre and second try scorer Jonathan Joseph - neither first choice picks - as England's key men.

"I can't see where you'd argue where England are massively depleted with a huge amount of players. They've got a huge strength in depth and I think the 6 and 13 were outstanding."

Gatland played down, however, any significance the result had on the World Cup in which his team have been drawn in the same pool as England, Australia and Fiji, with only two teams qualifying for the quarter-finals.

"It's seven months before we play England again," he said in reference to the September 26 Twickenham showdown between the two nations.

"Even had we won today it wouldn't have meant a huge amount in regards to seven months' time. We've lost the first game of the Six Nations and we have to get back on the horse."

Skipper Sam Warburton said the visitors "deserved the win the way they played in the last 20 minutes".

"England played very well in the second half, we found it very difficult to get momentum.

"We needed to try to get a foothold in the game that second half and we couldn't do it."

Warburton added: "We're very disappointed, it's not the start we wanted. There's four games to go - three of which are away. But you can't win a Championship by winning three games so every game has to be must-win now."

Read more on:    england  |  wales  |  six nations  |  rugby

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