Gatland revels in historical win
February 25, 2012
Scott Williams goes over for the match-winning score © Getty Images
Warren Gatland singled out Wales' "composure and character" after seeing his side claim the Triple Crown with a 19-12 victory over England at Twickenham.
Scott Williams scored the winning touchdown in the second half and Leigh Halfpenny kicked 14 points for Wales while fly-half Owen Farrell kicked four penalties for England. It was the first time Wales had ever won the Triple Crown at Twickenham.
Gatland said: "I said to the players before the game they had a chance to create history. They've done that and I'm delighted. It was a great Test match. England's defence was excellent. Maybe the occasion got to some of our younger players, Leigh Halfpenny missing his first kick and maybe Rhys Priestland did not have his best game but he came through that.
"We showed signs of great composure and character, that's a sign of a team which will get better in time."
England coach Stuart Lancaster, who had called for his team to improve their game by 10 per cent following narrow victories against Scotland and Italy, said: "We are very disappointed to lose but proud of the players and the effort they put in. It was a great Test match and all credit to Wales. Both sides gave it 100 per cent.
"We did improve. The intensity and the pressure of the situation and the inexperience in the squad were all things to test us but we played with credit and did the rose proud. There are lots of lessons we can learn but games at this level are going to be won by very fine margins. It's up to us to learn those lessons and move on and that's part of team development.
"We've been together for less than four weeks and I think we should take credit for how the players have worked."
England might have snatched a draw in the closing seconds when wing David Strettle went over in the corner with several Welsh players clinging to him but the decision went to video official Iain Ramage and he ruled the touchdown was inconclusive. Lancaster said: "It was far away from us. I stopped looking because it was not my decision.
"I couldn't control it. But the decision was made and games are lost not on one decision but on lots of things that happen in the course of the game. I don't want to dwell too much on that decision."
Gatland said: "If it had been awarded a try we wouldn't have complained. Toby (Flood)would still have had to kick a conversion to tie the game."
The one sour note for Wales was an injury to centre Jamie Roberts who damaged medial ligaments and will be out of action for two weeks. Gatland, however, was pleased with the way Wales dealt with the sin-binning of fly-half Priestland, who was yellow-carded for an offside tackle in the second half.
Gatland said: "We played better with 14 men than 15. We were guilty of trying to move ball in first half without having earned that right. Keeping the ball in that 10 minutes was the turning point of the match."
Wales also squandered an almost certain try when Scott Williams should have off-loaded to George North in the second half. Fortunately for Wales, Williams made up for it with his try, ripping the ball from Courtney Lawes and racing upfield to score. Gatland said: "I said to him (Williams)in the changing room 'Was that try to make up for the other one'. He wasn't very happy with himself.
"It's nice to see it coming off. We work at ripping the ball off players and he's ripped it out of Courtney Lawes' arms and gone down the field. It came off and changed the game."
Lancaster, however, believes England's inexperienced side are travelling in the right direction. He said: "There are lots of things we talked about in training that we began to see coming through. The players are hurting which shows how much they care.
"We said to them we have got to use that. We have a massive game in two weeks time over in France. We are looking forward to learning the lessons from this challenge and moving on."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September