Disappointed Powell determined to improve
November 25, 2008
Andy Powell will be looking to recapture the stunning form of his debut against South Africa © Getty Images
Wales' autumn discovery Andy Powell has pulled no punches about his performance against New Zealand, declaring, "I didn't come up with the goods."
Powell produced a man-of-the-match Test debut when Wales came within five points of holding world champions South Africa earlier this month. Powell's Springboks display earned him rave reviews, with many pundits already pencilling him in for the Lions tour to South Africa next summer.
But the 27-year-old has delivered a critical assessment of his efforts last weekend during an intriguing Millennium Stadium encounter which was won 29-9 by the All Blacks. He said, "I am disappointed with my performance. I set a high standard for the South Africa game and I didn't come up with the goods on Saturday. I didn't carry the ball enough or get my hands on the ball enough. If you aren't annoyed after a game you have lost, you shouldn't be here. Everybody is gutted with their performance, but this is Test rugby.
"The fact that I played badly on the weekend is going to drive me forward for the game on Saturday. I am determined to get more involved."
It is Wales' final throw of the dice to claim a Tri-Nations scalp before launching their Six Nations title defence against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 8. They have beaten South Africa, New Zealand or Australia just twice in 33 attempts during rugby union's 13-year professional era.
Recent history suggests, however, that Wales could come up trumps on Saturday, after defeating Australia in 2005, then drawing 29-29 with them a year later. Powell added, "It is a must-win game for us. We aren't that far away, and we cannot wait for the game. They are a world-class side and can beat anybody on their day. We are confident we can beat them, but it's going to be a tough game."
The Welsh pack will have been put on notice by the Australian front-row's prickly display at Twickenham two weeks ago, dispelling many pre-tour predictions that their pack couldn't cut it at the elite level. "I think it's a myth, I have watched them over the last few weeks and their pack is the best one in Test rugby at the moment. I think their scrummaging has been superb. We have a good scrum, but this will be a true test for us.
"For us, it's about playing 80 minutes of rugby. We played 40 minutes in the second half against South Africa, and we played a good first 40 against New Zealand. Now we have to do it for the full 80 minutes. If we do that, we will win."
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