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Warren Gatland still unimpressed despite Ireland's elevation to top spot


Ready for more: Warren Gatland with Joe Schmidt after Ireland defeated Wales
Ready for more: Warren Gatland with Joe Schmidt after Ireland defeated Wales
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Wales coach Warren Gatland left the Aviva Stadium on Saturday unimpressed by the side now ranked number one in the world.

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For the second week in succession, he'd seen his squad beaten by Ireland, on this occasion 19-10 after a dominant second half from the hosts,

Yet Gatland, who has been a vocal critic of his former employers in the past, most recently saying that they're "getting a bit older", had another pop at Joe Schmidt's attacking style.

"We were reasonably positive. Ireland went back to what they were traditionally good at, 85% off nine, off nine, and using Bundee Aki.

"It's been effective for them. When they play that way, we've been successful coming hard at those one-off runners and stopping those collisions with good discipline.

"Otherwise they'll squeeze you in the 22. They were good in that area but they didn't play any expansive rugby that could trouble us out wide.

"Their line-out functioned well and it was a big moment when Leigh Halfpenny marked the ball. We've a few things to learn. We've been successful  in the past against them when we've been collision dominant.

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"We just didn't have enough territory and possession against them.

"They went to the air well and they were dominant in the breakdown. I'm not too concerned, we had a turnover of players."

Wales, who are in a group alongside Australia and Fiji, as well as Georgia and Uruguay, have lost three of their four warm-up games having also split a double-header with England. Gatland, though, is unconcerned with the form of his 2019 Grand Slam winners ahead of the tournament. 

"We're holding a little back and a few guys are worried about getting on the plane," he said of recent performances.

"It's not like Six Nations game where you're worried about winning, when you'd be kicking for more territory.

"We coughed up a lot of ball. We could have folded with all of that territory against us so our character was good. Other teams could have folded with that amount of territory against them.

"The referee missed a few high tackles against us although he pulled us up a few but that happens."

Wales' Rhys Patchell and Ireland's Keith Earls appeared to be the only injury concerns coming out of Saturday's game at the Aviva Stadium but it was a different story for Scotland after their victory over Georgia one day prior.

Gregor Townsend's side, who play Ireland in their opening fixture on September 22, ran in six tries during their 36-9 Murrayfield farewell but shipped a host of knocks ahead of today's flight to Japan.

The most serious was for flanker Jamie Ritchie who is set to remain in Scotland for treatment while Magnus Bradbury will travel with the squad instead as a pre-caution.

Lock Ben Toolis and full-back Blair Kinghorn both took knocks to the head while second-row Jonny Gray and flanker Blade Thomson came off with tight hamstrings.

"We hope it is not anything that will keep him out of the World Cup," said Townsend of Ritchie.

Belfast Telegraph


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