The losing run continued for Wales on Friday night as England beat them 26-19 in the opening round of the Six Nations, but Warren Gatland and co were still able to take many positives from their team’s performance, and will go to Murrayfield believing they can win, writes Bea Asprey. “I can’t fault the effort of our guys,” said Gatland. “England spent more time in our 22, and they had more chances and took them, but there wasn’t a huge amount of difference between the two sides tonight.”
Each team lost a man to the sin bin during the game – England’s Louis Deacon seeing yellow in the first half and Wales’ Craig Mitchell in the second – but only England managed to capitalise, with Ashton’s second try coming in the ninth minute of Mitchell’s absence, and Gatland admitted that at times his team was lacking the confidence to keep the ball in hand.
“We tried to deliver the message to the players to keep the ball in hand, and we did talk about that at half time, but at times we kicked away too much ball,” admitted Gatland. “It’s about having the confidence to play.”
But one positive Gatland will take from the game was Jonathan Davies’s performance in the midfield, and he said of the youngster: “I thought he was outstanding tonight. Seeing Jon Davies’s development over the last 16 months makes you realise he’s definitely one for the future. He’s strong, quick and powerful.
“Morgan (Stoddart) also looked sharp and dangerous on the ball tonight and we know about his attacking abilities,” continued Gatland. “We thought we might lose him to injury early on in the game but he dug deep and had a good game.”
Wales head to Murrayfield next week hoping to rediscover their winning form, and captain Matthew Rees can’t wait to get back on the pitch.
“We’re frustrated and we need to bounce back, and there’s no better way of doing that than going up to Murrayfield,” said Rees. “We’ll take a lot of positives from today – individuals played well and we weren’t a million miles away. Now we just need to make sure we play well next week, but if we can just respect the ball a bit more I’m confident we can come away with a win.”