Rugby World Cup: Wales shakes off controversial preparation to beat Georgia
(CNN)Despite a far from perfect build-up for this year’s Rugby World Cup, Wales got off to a solid start with a 43-14 victory over Georgia on Monday.
Long-trusted attack coach Rob Howley was sent home from the tournament just days before Wales’ opening game with the 48-year-old facing an investigation over allegedly breaking World Rugby’s laws around betting.But off-field distractions were soon forgotten at the City of Toyota Stadium as Warren Gatland’s side quickly stormed into an unassailable lead.
Jonathan Davies settled any early nerves the Welsh players might have had by cutting through the Georgian defense with ease to register an early try between the posts, a sure sign of things to come. Georgia, ranked 12th in the world, barely touched the ball in the opening stages with Wales seemingly able to extend its lead at will. Read MoreJustin Tipuric and the speedy Josh Adams both powered over the line with no reply, while kicker Dan Biggar made no mistakes with the conversions after shaking off an earlier miss. There was just enough time for Liam Williams to ensure a bonus-point by adding his side’s fourth before Georgia limped off at the half time whistle. READ: All Blacks storm to win over South Africa in World Cup
READ: Japan defeats Russia as Kotaro Matsushima shines on opening night Justin Tipuric scores Wales’ second try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group D game against Georgia.Georgia improve However, Georgia was rejuvenated by the half time break and came out firing. Shalva Mamukashvili bundled the ball over the try line shortly after the restart and the underdog’s defense suddenly looked up for the fight. Despite lacking the intensity of the opening period, a scrappy Wales eventually extinguished any notion of a comeback with Tomos Williams running onto a searching George North kick to dot down over the line. Undeterred by the scoreline, Georgia’s second half revival continued with Levan Chilachava working hard for a consolation try, only for North to reply within minutes to reestablish a healthy lead.”We came out of the blocks as we wanted in the first half. We’re probably a bit disappointed with the second half, we left a couple of tries out there,” Wales captain Alan Wyn Jones said after the match.”The overall feeling is we took our foot off the gas a bit in the second half. It’s a good result, but there’s plenty to work on.” Following Howley’s departure, Stephen Jones has joined the Welsh squad as attack coach in Japan. Gatland was quick to praise his new right-hand man after the match. “In fairness to Stephen he’s fitted in well, he’s up to speed with the calls and a lot of the structures that we’ve got,” the New Zealander told reporters. “Now his focus is helping to prepare the team for Australia.”He compared losing Howley to “like when you lose a key player,” but said he was impressed with the way his players had responded. “We can’t change the past and what’s happened, you’ve just got to start thinking and looking forward,” Gatland continued. “I said to the players beforehand that they had been absolutely outstanding this week in the way that they have prepared for this match, the way that they’ve trained, the way that senior players have stepped up and taken responsibility, we’ve had a good week’s training and I think everybody was looking forward to getting out on the pitch tonight.”
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Rugby players advised to cover tattoos in Japan 01:28READ: Israel Folau set to play Rugby League for TongaGames getting harder Wales will face a harder test in its next Pool D game against two-time world champion Australia, which was victorious over Fiji on Saturday. Speaking of Sunday’s test, Wales coach Gatland said his side were ready for the massive challenge.
“We have a six-day turnaround and the players have worked incredibly hard in the warm-ups and the camps for that,” he told ITV. “We have had some tough games against them over the years but we came out on top in the last game.”