Gatland demands more of the same
September 16, 2011
Wales head coach Warren Gatland was buoyed by his side's display against the Boks © Getty Images
Wales boss Warren Gatland has revealed that his players, far from being deflated by the heart-breaking nature of last weekend's 17-16 defeat by South Africa, have taken great heart out of their performance in Wellington and are now looking forward to kick-starting their Rugby World Cup campaign when they face Samoa on Sunday.
The Welsh turned in a stirring display against the Springboks, recovering from the shock of conceding a try to Frans Steyn after just two minutes of play to lead the reigning champions 16-10 with just over 20 minutes to play at the Westpac Stadium.
South Africa came storming back, with Francois Hougaard crossing for a converted try which put the Boks back into the lead. However, even then, the Welsh had two chances to claim a deserved win, but Rhys Priestland was off target with what looked like an easy drop goal before James Hook dragged a late penalty attempt wide.
A victory would have installed Wales as favourites to top Pool C and set them up nicely for what promises to be a challenging and bruising encounter with Samoa. However, Gatland insists that his troops are going into their clash with the Polynesians brimming with confidence even in spite of their agonising loss to the South Africans.
"We were extremely disappointed to lose last week against the Springboks," he said. "But we did maintain momentum, with aspects of the performance providing a host of positive points to take into Sunday against Samoa.
"We have regrouped and the players are looking forward to getting back out on the pitch to largely pick up where they left off last weekend.
"There are one or two areas we know we need to work on, but we are looking for much of the same from all involved. We could not fault the effort, passion and commitment of the players last week, and we have simply said we are looking for the same again against Samoa."
However, Gatland is well aware that Samoa will prove an extremely difficult obstacle to overcome, not least because they are likely to have plenty of fans in Hamilton.
"Samoa are going to have a lot of support, as will Fiji when we come back to play them in the final game of our pool," he added. "But we are hoping some of the Waikato people will be getting behind Wales as well.
"We played there on our summer tour of New Zealand last year and I told all of the players what to expect then. We all really enjoyed the experience and the welcome we had in Hamilton."
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