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Warren Gatland hopes past successes can spur Wales to Twickenham glory


Sam Warburton was pleased Wales ended France's unbeaten start to this year's RBS 6 Nations

Sam Warburton was pleased Wales ended France's unbeaten start to this year's RBS 6 Nations

Sam Warburton was pleased Wales ended France's unbeaten start to this year's RBS 6 Nations

Warren Gatland believes Wales will draw on their past successes at Twickenham for what is shaping up to be an RBS 6 Nations decider against England.

Wales moved to the top of the table with a 19-10 victory over France in Cardiff - their fifth successive victory over Les Bleus.

England will reclaim top spot by beating Ireland at home on Saturday and that is likely to set up a title shoot-out with Wales at Twickenham on March 12.

Gatland has fond memories of Twickenham with Wales winning there in their Grand Slam seasons of 2008 and 2012, as well as last September's World Cup clash which secured their quarter-final place at England's expense.

"It's a great stadium, we love going to play there," Gatland said. "They're a quality team and it's going to be a really tough Test match.

"But we've been there on a few occasions and won there, so we've got to have that confidence and belief that you can do it.

"That's why the victory was so important, it keeps us in this Championship.

"If we had lost we would basically have been out of it - but we've got a lot to play for now in two weeks."

Gethin Jenkins, a replacement against France, could miss the Twickenham clash as Gatland reported that the British and Irish Lions prop had suffered a tight calf before kick-off.

The New Zealander also confirmed the Wales management would check on Rhys Webb's fitness in the Ospreys' Guinness PRO12 game at Connacht on Saturday.

Scrum-half Webb is set to make his first start since suffering a foot injury last September, which forced him to miss the Rugby World Cup.

After drawing with Ireland in Dublin and beating Scotland at home, Wales were worthy winners against France to make it five points from three matches.

Their first-half dominance deserved more than a 6-3 lead, but the boot of Dan Biggar - who contributed 14 points - and George North's 25th try for his country gave Wales breathing space after the break.

Les Bleus skipper Guilhem Guirado did cross in the final minute, but it was only France's second try in six games against Wales.

"It was a tough game, so to go 19-3 with 10 minutes to go we were really pleased with that," Gatland said.

"We felt we didn't get the rub of the green on a few things but you've got to cope with that.

"I told the players that the pleasing thing was that trusted the system defensively, and they trusted each other. From a coach's point of view, that is very pleasing."

Gatland, however, was disappointed that his team constantly fell foul of English referee Wayne Barnes.

Wales conceded 14 penalties in the game and the New Zealander was clearly bemused by some of the decisions.

"We need to get clarity on a few calls as a few scrum decisions went against us and there is always interpretation at the breakdown," Gatland said.

"In fairness, we need to look at ourselves as well to see why that penalty count was as high as it was.

"But one of the targets we have as a team is 10 penalties or less, and that (amount of penalties) puts you under a bit of pressure.

"Hopefully we'll be a bit more accurate in couple of weeks' time, but the defence was outstanding, the set-piece was good again and we were good in the air.

"France have definitely improved - they competed hard on the ball and got in behind us once or twice.

"They've got so many players I think they will improve as the championship goes on."

France had won their opening two championship games against Italy and Ireland, but it remains very much a work in progress under new coach Guy Noves.

They spent most of the first half on the back foot and, when they did finally enjoy some possession and territory in the second period at 16-3 down, they were unable to unlock the Wales defence.

"It was a big turning point of the match not being able to score when we were in their 22 for so long," Noves said.

"It was a difficult way to concede a try, especially as we had showed character to go in 6-3 down at half-time.

"We were under pressure in the first half, especially under high balls, but it probably reflects the game at the end.

"Wales relies a lot on the power of the backs so we were not surprised.

"They have a strong kicking game and we were not up to it, it allowed them to put pressure on us and stay in our half."