Gatland says Wales were defensively "comfortable" against Australia

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A decision to beef up the Wales bench paid off for coach Warren Gatland in a 9-6 win over the Wallabies in Cardiff.

In a defence-laden game, Gatland said he felt his team had the Wallabies attack's number for the first time in recent memory, a significant confident boost against their Rugby World Cup pool opponents less than a year out from the tournament.

“It's probably the most comfortable we've been defensively against Australia," he said.

 "We're in a really good place building up for the next 12 months."

Gatland was acutely aware of the tightness of their past Tests, with almost all of the last 13 decided by a single score, naming a star-studded bench to ensure they finished strongly.

It was a strategy that paid off in the close win, that was marked by an impressive defensive effort.

"I said that was the strongest bench we've put out in my time in Wales.

Wales took a different tack in the lead-up to their Test against Australia this year, playing Scotland in the first week of the November internationals, in a bid to keep his players in elite environments.

"The game last week was important for us. We probably wouldn't have won today had it been first up," he said.

"We've got good momentum at the moment. Seven wins in a row.

"It puts pressure on those taking the field. We're in a really good place and looking forward to the World Cup next year."

Gatland wasn’t quite as happy with a decision late in the game to leave Samu Kerevi’s charge down challenge unchecked, describing the incident as “reckless”.

Kerevi lowered his arm as he landed from trying to charge down a Halfpenny kick but wasn’t penalised..

"I thought it was reckless, I thought it was a penalty and potentially a yellow card. He is going to make contact with him because he has gone to charge the ball down, but he has kept that shoulder in that position.

"I asked whether he could have turned his back or put an arm out to soften the blow.

"I think everyone can make up their own opinion on what they see.

"The bad thing for Leigh is that he has got to go through the return to play protocols. We will make sure he is right."