Wales 17-13 Samoa, Millennium Stadium, November 13
Gatland slams poor finishing
November 13, 2009
Wales coach Warren Gatland and his assistant Shaun Edwards have plenty of food for thought following their side's latest performance © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted his side were guilty of wasting a string of opportunities on their way to a nail-biting 17-13 victory over Samoa at the Millennium Stadium.
The hosts created 11 line breaks but only managed to score one try, an early effort from wing Leigh Halfpenny, during an error-strewn display in Cardiff.
"We created a lot of chances and made a lot of line breaks and we should have put the game away and won comfortably," said Gatland. "That's disappointing, there is a positive in that we have created that many chances but we haven't been clinical enough. You have to look at the negative stuff in terms of catching the ball or players trying to offload the ball when they should hold on to it.
"At half-time we felt if we kept the tempo up their forwards would struggle and they did struggle, but to be honest I was disappointed with the amount of ball we kicked away, particularly when we had the chance to keep the ball in hand."
Assistant coach Rob Howley was equally scathing about the hosts inability to finish off the openings they created. "We kicked the ball away 15 times in the first half," he said. "In the second half we broke through on three or four occasions and we didn't finish it off. That stat tells you everything, 11 line breaks and one try, it's simply not good enough."
Gatland also admitted his side had been troubled at scrum time, with the Samoans threatening to drive the hosts over the line from a five-metre scrum in the dying seconds, but refused to be drawn on whether he would make changes for next weekend's Test against Argentina.
"We were under pressure at times in the scrum today," he said. "I was happy with how we went last week (against New Zealand) but you have to have a look at the whole game and look at our set-up speed and the engagement, so it is a bit early to talk about changes for next week. This week we just haven't been hard enough on ourselves in terms of trying to put them under pressure."
Samoa captain George Stowers was proud of his side's effort, with the squad having only come together three days before the match.
The London Irish flanker said, "I am really proud of the boys' performance. We didn't help ourselves being one man down on two occasions and that is something we have to work on, but we came back and we really worked hard in our defence for 80 minutes."
Stowers also took the opportunity to plead for his side to be given the chance to face top-level nations on a more regular basis. "The thing for us tonight was that we had a hit out against a tier one nation and we showed the kind of rugby we can play."