Result all-important to Gatland
Published 19/09/2011 | 08:02
Only one thing mattered to Warren Gatland after Wales survived a trademark scare gainst Samoa to keep alive their World Cup quarter-final hopes - the result.
A 17-10 victory at Waikato Stadium means Wales remain on course for a last-eight clash - probably against Ireland - in Wellington on October 8.
"I thought we showed some great character," said Gatland, after presiding over Wales' first World Cup appearance in his home town.
Samoa, though, threatened to inflict a hat-trick of World Cup calamities on Wales following their wins in the 1991 and 1999 tournaments, until wing Shane Williams scored his 55th Test try.
Williams struck 13 minutes from time, finishing off a flowing move started by substitute full-back Leigh Halfpenny, as Wales overcame an alarming 10-6 interval deficit.
If they can see off remaining group opponents Namibia and Fiji, then that should be enough to march on, especially as Samoa have yet to face world champions South Africa.
It was neither fluent nor pretty and had shades of an underwhelming 17-13 success against the South Sea Islanders in Cardiff two years ago, yet Wales prevailed after a game coach Gatland conceded might not have gone their way in the past.
"A few years ago, or 12 months earlier, we might not have won that game. We will dissect the performance over the next couple of days and see where we can improve," said Gatland.
"In the first half, we tried to play a bit too much rugby, but our whole World Cup was about going out in that second half and digging deep. And they did that.
"I thought our conditioning was great. The longer the game went on, the stronger and fitter we looked. We knew this was a must-win game, and (a quarter-final place) is in our own hands isn't it?"