Gatland: The players have redeemed themselves
February 21, 2014
France had no joy against a resilient Welsh defence © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland hailed his team's performance as they got their Six Nations campaign back on track with a convincing 27-6 win over France on Friday evening.
After their dismal showing against Ireland in round two, Wales played with a determination which France had no answer to. Prior to the match Gatland said that if players did not perform against France, it could be the last time they run out for the national side, but they responded with their best showing of the championship.
"We know we let ourselves down in Dublin in terms of the way we played and the performance," Gatland said. "There was a lot of pressure on the coaches and the players, and they responded brilliantly. I thought it was an excellent display.
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"The message is always when you put that jersey on that you need to remind yourself sometimes about the responsibility. We are such a small playing nation that you can't take that jersey for granted. That was the message. The performance against Ireland just wasn't good enough. It wasn't good enough from the players or coaches.
"It was a reminder that when we put that jersey on we have got a huge amount to play for, whether it is family or friends or players from the past."
Gatland said he thought the atmosphere inside the Millennium Stadium was "sensational" and was pleased his players "redeemed themselves" after the loss in Dublin.
Wales' record Six Nations win against France has put them back in the title mix ahead of tackling England, and then hosting Scotland on March 15. And assessing hopes of silverware, Gatland added: "It gives us a better chance than we had before tonight. If you look at Dublin, you would probably have expected tonight to be a lot closer. We are back in contention.
"We have got some confidence and can build a bit of momentum. We have had some good results at Twickenham. All you can ask as coaches is for the players to give 100%, and they did that."
France saw their hopes of a Grand Slam disappear without trace. They had beaten England and Italy, but proved no match for Wales, and coach Philippe Saint-Andre could not mask his frustration.
"We knew the first 20 minutes would be vital and crucial after Wales' last game two weeks ago, but after 10 minutes we were 11 points down after conceding two silly penalties and a try," he said. "We knew if we wanted to win that we would have to start well.
"Our motivation should have been as strong as that of the Welsh team, and our desire should have been the same, but it wasn't. I have told the players that we can still win the Six Nations, and we now have to target wins against Scotland and Ireland."
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