After an unbelievably tense eighty minutes of frantic rugby, Wales emerged from Twickenham victorious, putting us in the driving seat in Pool A, albeit with two very difficult games remaining.
I was so impressed with the performances of Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones. With sheer determination, pure grit and nerves of steel, they confidently marshalled the Wales team back into contention in a game which almost seemed lost when the excellent Owen Farrell struck a penalty shortly after half-time. Biggar’s own monstrous penalty from near the half-way line turned out to be a match-winner, and dispelled any fears I had about Wales missing the long-range goal kicking abilities of Leigh Halfpenny.
And, how about that Wales try? Engineered by Lloyd Williams’ grubber kick from the left wing, scored by the chasing Gareth Davies. Just sublime, and a real turning point in the game. Given that by this point we had suffered yet more injuries, and a host of players were having to play out of position, this was such an assured and well worked try. I think the fitness of the Welsh team also became a factor in the final quarter.
Lots has been made of the final twenty minutes of Saturday’s game, which saw England surrender a ten point lead and Chris Robshaw decide to shun a kick at goal in favour of a driving lineout which could have snatched victory but instead resulted in defeat. The press have torn Robshaw to shreds for that decision, but personally I think he made the right decision – it’s the sort of confident leadership that can make a captain a hero or a villain.
So, next up for Wales, it’s Fiji, a game which kicks off in just under five hours time! There’s certainly belief in the Wales camp, but we have come unstuck in these situations many times before. We are by no means through to the quarter finals yet. Fiji looked fast and physical against England and Australia, and we can expect more of the same this afternoon. I’m pleased to see an extremely strong team selected. It’s a game we must close out. If it becomes an open game, we could be exposed and vulnerable in the wider channels. I’ll be hoping to see more superb game management from Biggar and Wyn-Jones too.
Come on Wales!!