Williams calls for Welsh step up in class
February 15, 2009
Martyn Williams has called for Wales to improve before they head to France © Getty Images
Wales openside Martyn Williams has labelled his side as "not the finished article" after Saturday's 23-15 Six Nations win over England at the Millennium Stadium.
Wales tuned in a hit-and-miss performance against an improved England, marred in places by some unusual defensive lapses. Despite this they still racked up their third straight Six Nations win over England, and remain unbeaten in the tournament under Warren Gatland.
"We knew it was always going to be an arm-wrestle against England," said Williams. "A lot of those England players know what it is like to win World Cups and get to World Cup finals - they are born winners. They were always going to make it difficult for us, and that was one of the toughest games I've played in for a long time.
"We would have taken a one-point win. We all said that to ourselves at breakfast on Saturday morning. It was a game where we had everything to lose and nothing to gain. Everyone seemed to be saying we were going to walk over them, but we just wanted to come up with a win. It was very physical, but our mentality was good. We handled being overwhelming favourites well."
Wales allowed England back in to the game after racking up 9-0 and 20-8 leads, a worrying development that was also apparent during their opening win over Scotland last weekend.
"We let them (England) back into the game a couple of times when we probably should have seen them off," said Williams. "We did the same thing in Scotland last week. We let them back into the game, and we really should start to bury sides. We will take the wins, don't get me wrong, but that is the extra step we still need to go to be one of the very top sides. It s encouraging that we are winning, but I think we could make things a little bit easier for ourselves sometimes."
"We know we are not the finished article, and there is a lot to work on. We've got a lot of experience, our physical conditioning has gone up another level, we know we can go the full 80 minutes. It's a little bit of everything, really. There is no magic formula - it was just hard work in the end.
"England were never going to lie down and let us run all over them. They've got a lot of pride in the jersey, and they showed that."
Wales will now go away and prepare for a trip to face France at the Stade de France in the tournament's first Friday night game on February 27.
"France away is not going to be easy," Williams said. "It's good we have got a bit of a break now - there are a lot of battered and bruised bodies after two games in six days. Going to Paris is one of the toughest places in the world to play. We've had two wins, but we've got a lot to work on, which is good. Although France lost to Ireland last week, ball in hand they looked superb. Our defence will need to step up again."
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.