France v Wales, Six Nations Championship, February 27
Gatland laments Welsh mistakes
February 27, 2009
Imanol Harinordoquy goes airborne during a hard-fought game © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted that his side were second best as France ended their hopes for back-toback grand slams at a cacophonous Stade de France.
The sides were locked together at 13-13 at half-time but a try from wing Cedric Heymans proved to be the decisive moment soon after the break. Gatland lamented his side's mistakes and their lack of composure when the game was still in the balance.
"They deserved the victory," he told BBC2. ""There were too many mistakes at the end of it we have to give the French full credit because they deserved the victory in the end. We had a chance to sneak it, but I think at 13-13 we needed to be a bit more clinical. I thought our collisions were poor. Emotionally they were a bit more desperate than we were and wanted it a bit more."
Wales laid siege to the French line in the closing stages, going through multiple phases against a superb French defence. Gatland admitted that there were some angry players in the Wales changing room after they felt France had illegally disrupted a line out in the dying moments.
"The guys were very upset," he said."They felt there was a penalty at the end. We just weren't good enough tonight."
Man of the Match Imanol Harinordoquy believes that it was his side's spirit that allowed them to hold the Welsh attacks at bay in the final moments.
"It was very difficult, they attacked a lot and they gave a lot of energy in the last phase of the match but our defence did great," Harinordoquy told BBC2. "I think we won thanks to the defence and the spirit of the team.
"We showed another face. We came out with spirit and we wanted to win to show what we can do."
France's victory will have been a cathartic one for coach Marc Lievremont, who has endured fierce criticism in the French media due to his eccentric selections. Benoit Baby, a centre, had been selected at fly-half but acquitted himself well before limping off injured at half time. Harinordoquy hoped that the side had bought their coach some breathing space.
"There was a lot of pressure because there was a lot of criticism in the week after two not very good matches," said Harinordoquy. "Today was another France, I hope we can continue like this."