Wales make hard work of beating Uruguay in their final group game but will play France in the quarter-finals

2019 Rugby World Cup: Wales 35-13 Uruguay

Head-to-head

Played – 2

Wales wins -2

Uruguay wins – 0

Did You Know?

  • Justin Tipuric captained Wales for the first time.
  • The 13 changes made to the starting XV that played against Fiji is the most Wales have ever made at a Rugby World Cup.
  • Andres Vilaseca and Juan Manuel Gaminara made their eighth World Cup appearances – a Uruguay record. Agustin Ormaechea and Rodrigo Silva joined them when they came off the bench.

Related: Rugby World Cup Fixtures

In A Nutshell

Yes, this was a much-changed Wales team. Yes, Wales had already booked their place in the quarter-finals. Yes, Uruguay had nothing to lose in their final match of this World Cup.

Yet even taking all that into account this was a poor performance from Wales. Below-par would be too kind a description and it’s the opposite of how Warren Gatland would have wanted his side to build towards a last-eight tie against France in Oita next weekend.

Rather than these fringe players putting their hands up for inclusion for the quarter-final match-day 23, there will have been a few black marks left next to names as they start preparations for the French match.

Wales probably made more errors in this 80 minutes than they had in their three other pool matches combined. Twice Hallam Amos crossed the line, twice the try was ruled out for a forward pass from Hadleigh Parkes. And Amos made it a hat-trick of non-tries by dropping the ball over the line in the closing minutes.

Centre Parkes wasn’t the only one whose radar was off. The Wales display was littered with wayward passes and knock-ons, and the match simply wasn’t a great spectacle as the numerous errors resulted in a fractured game.

Credit here must also paid to the Uruguay defence, which has been effective for much of this tournament.

The Uruguayans tackle low and usually in pairs, which means ball-carriers are brought to ground rather than being able to make a few extra metres and get an offload away. Plus, Uruguay are then in a good position to slow the ball down at the ruck and duly won a few turnovers and penalties for holding on.

Wales led only 7-6 at the break – a converted Nicky Smith try from close range in the 17th minute putting the men in red ahead before two Felipe Berchesi penalties closed the gap.

2019 Rugby World Cup: Wales v Uruguay

First act: Justin Tipuric congratulates Nicky Smith for scoring the opening try (Getty Images)

It took Wales more than 30 minutes to add to their score, Josh Adams crossing close to the 50-minute mark after a big carry from Bradley Davies.

A penalty try followed a quarter of an hour later as Wales took advantage of Santiago Civetta being sin-binned to launch their driving maul and referee Angus Gardner ran under the posts as Uruguay infringed.

Uruguay hit back when down to 14 men, though, and attacked from a five-metre lineout of their own. German Kessler was the man who touched the ball down.

Wales finished with two tries from the two scrum-halves on the bench – Tomos Williams crossing after an initial break from Leigh Halfpenny and Gareth Davies running in a solo score from close to halfway following a quick tap penalty to close out the game.

It gave the scoreline a more comfortable feel from Wales’ perspective but the match would have made uncomfortable viewing for Gatland.

2019 Rugby World Cup: Wales v Uruguay

He can kick it: Uruguay fly-half Felipe Berchesi kicked well against Wales (Getty Images)

Star Man

Leigh Halfpenny got the official Man of the Match award and was Wales’ best player, but we’re opting for Andres Vilaseca. At the forefront of a determined and proud Uruguay side, the inside-centre carried hard when Uruguay were pinned in their own half and was regularly used to crash ball forward from scrums. Plus, he was a strong figure in defence.

Related: Rugby World Cup TV Coverage

The Reaction

Wales coach Warren Gatland: “It’s about creating momentum and while it wasn’t the prettiest performance tonight, we dug in and we had some quality come off the bench. The scoreline probably reflected the difference of the two teams.

“I have to take my hat off to Uruguay. They were tenacious and never gave up, making tackles and competing bard. They’re a tough outfit to put away.”

Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses: “Our aim was to show our evolution through our play and performance, and I think we achieved that. We were able to play on a par with Wales and hang in there until half-time. In the second half, the score widened but we were also able to give a shock to Wales. We were able to display the spirit and DNA that is within us.”

The Teams

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Josh Adams (Gareth Davies 69), Owen Watkin, Hadleigh Parkes, Hallam Amos; Rhys Patchell, Aled Davies (Tomos Williams 60); Nicky Smith (Rhys Carre 52), Ryan Elias (Elliot Dee 52), Dillon Lewis (Wyn Jones 64), Bradley Davies, Adam Beard, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric (captain, James Davies 60), Aaron Wainwright (Ross Moriarty 60).

Tries: Smith 17, Adams 49, penalty 66, Williams 74, G Davies 84. Cons: Halfpenny 4.

Uruguay: Gaston Mieres (Rodrigo Silva 64); Leandro Leivas, Juan Manuel Cat (Tomas Inciarte 73), Andres Vilaseca (Juan Echeverria 78), Nicolas Freitas; Felipe Berchesi, Santiago Arata (Agustin Ormaechea 58); Mateo Sanguinetti, German Kessler (Guillermo Pujadas 76), Diego Arbelo (Juan Pedro Rombys 52), Ignacio Dotti (Diego Magno 58), Manuel Leindekar, Juan Manuel Gaminara (captain), Santiago Civetta, Alejandro Nieto (Manuel Diana 58).

Try: Kessler 71. Con: Berchesi. Pens: Berchesi 2.

Yellow card: Civetta 65min.

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