Warren Gatland realises the importance of Wales following up an impressive victory against Australia by performing well in their remaining Pool D matches.

Wales took control of their Rugby World Cup group by clinging on against the Wallabies and earning a hard-fought 29-25 win.

Gatland's side are expected to challenge for a first title at this tournament, yet the coach is first focused on ensuring they do not "take anyone lightly" prior to the knockout stages.

Wales face Fiji and then Uruguay in a pair of fixtures they will be expected to win.

"It was a tough game [against Australia] and a victory. It's confidence boosting hopefully for the next couple of games," he told a news conference. "We think they're going to be tough.

"Fiji will be hurting and we saw how well they played against Australia in the first half of that first game. We can't take anyone lightly in this group.

"It's important for us that we make sure we prepare in the best way that we possibly can and that we don't take any team or any performance for granted.

"We have to be as clinical as we possibly can be because that's what good teams do. They make sure that they are clinical and they are accurate.

"If we are to be considered a good team, we have got to play well in these next two matches."

Wales were waiting to see how Dan Biggar recovered after a failed head injury assessment, but Gatland was optimistic Liam Williams would be fit after rolling his ankle.

"We'll need to make sure we recover," Gatland said. "We've got nine or 10 days until our next match.

"We'll use that in the best way we possibly can to freshen up the guys and make sure we take a little time. It's nice getting a decent break before our next match against Fiji."

Meanwhile, opposite number Michael Cheika was not receptive to discussing Wales' chances when he was asked for an assessment at his own spiky news conference.

"I don't think that's really for me to talk about, is it? We've played our game against them and move onto the next game," he said.

"They won, now move onto the next game. It's not my place to talk about who's going to win and who's not."

Michael Cheika claimed decisions at the Rugby World Cup are making him "embarrassed" and question his own knowledge of the laws after feeling Australia were let down by officials again.

The Wallabies had seen Reece Hodge suspended for three matches in the build-up to playing Wales, having been cited for a dangerous tackle against Fiji.

That challenge and the subsequent hearing prompted a public debate in which Hodge took issue with those criticising his supposed lack of knowledge of the "high tackle decision making framework".

Australia were then frustrated to see an apparent high tackle from Rhys Patchell on Samu Kerevi that instead saw the Wallabies man penalised for use of the forearm in the carry.

Cheika outlined his issues with the incident in a post-match news conference.

He also claimed "administrators are spooking referees" due to their awarding of suspensions after the fact, while the coach was bemused to hear England's Piers Francis had evaded a ban at his own hearing.

"It was pretty funny because I thought I'd seen that [Patchell] tackle before," Cheika said. "It could have been Reece Hodge...

"I'm not sure. But when our guy makes that tackle and has the high-tackle framework in his head, he gets suspended. When this guy doesn't think about the high-tackle framework, we get penalised.

"You've seen it. As a former player, I'm embarrassed about that."

He added: "I don't know the rules anymore. Honestly, I don't know the rules anymore.

"They all seem spooked. Everyone seems worried about stuff so much. I'm not sure why they're worried - players aren't worried.

"Then it's affecting everything else on the field as well, decisions on all types of crazy stuff. Then I hear that the English guy got off at the suspension thing. Wow.

"I've not said anything there, have I? It just shows if you're not confused, maybe the floodlights going out at the end was a symbol.

"The administrators are spooking referees. The referees are worried about making the wrong decisions and they're becoming ultra cautious about everything, and it's not inviting to the fans.

"Why should we be having booing out there in a game like that with those types of crowds? There shouldn't be people booing - and they're not booing the players either. That shouldn't be happening."

Asked if rugby was becoming "soft", Cheika replied: "It's a tough one, right? Very tough.

"You've got to take care and look after players but not to an extreme where you're just looking after players for doctors and lawyers. Look after players for players."

Australia captain Michael Hooper conceded the Wallabies left themselves with too much to do against Wales after a poor first half on Sunday.

In what will surely be the key fixture in Pool D at the Rugby World Cup, Wales got the better of a strong-finishing Australia 29-25, having led 23-8 at the break.

Tries from Dane Haylett-Petty and Hooper himself set up a tense finish, but the Wallabies could not quite wrestle back control of the match.

Hooper was disappointed but keen to move on quickly, knowing Australia cannot afford to spend too long reflecting on a defeat that likely sends them into the same side of the draw as England and New Zealand.

"It was a close game between two very willing teams and it came down to the wire," he said.

"It was 17-6 [in the second half] - we had the momentum, we just gave away too many in the first half. In particular the back-to-back points really hurt us.

"Congratulations to Wales for holding us out.

"We'll review it now. Recovery is key. We'll review it pretty hard, but in this format of competition, you've got to move on pretty quickly."

Coach Michael Cheika offered a blunt assessment of Australia's defeat, adding: "What went wrong? We just lost by a couple of points - it was a tight contest and that's the way it goes sometimes."

Warren Gatland was delighted to see Wales edge past Australia in a bruising Rugby World Cup encounter he acknowledged they might well have lost previously.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions raced out to a 23-8 half-time lead before Australia built momentum in the second period and set up a nervy finish with tries from Dane Haylett-Petty and Michael Hooper.

But Wales clung on to take a 29-25 victory and seize control of Pool D, potentially avoiding England and New Zealand in the quarter-finals and semis.

Gatland saw this as the type of clash Wales would have come up short in prior to the last 12 months in which they have forged a steely reputation, also beating Australia in a Test last November.

"It was pretty special," he told ITV Sport. "It was a good first half and we hung on in the second half.

"Australia came at us and the boys are pretty sore and battered in the changing rooms. It was a really tough physical game - and those are the ones in the past that we've been losing.

"It was nice to hold on at the end and I thought our bench were fantastic and gave us some real momentum and fresh legs when we needed them."

He added: "We're really pleased to get that win - it takes a little of the pressure off us. Now we're kind of in control of our own destiny in terms of what happens."

Alun Wyn Jones, making a record 130th appearance, praised Wales' character but was slightly concerned by another "tentative" second half.

Wales had similarly built a big lead against Georgia before slowing after the break, their 29-point half-time advantage failing to increase as they won 43-14.

"I'm pretty happy with the character we showed - particularly in the second half," Jones said.

"At times, it did feel a bit like the Georgia game, where we had a great first half and were a bit tentative in the second half. We'll have a look at that, but I'm pleased with the result."

Wales were beaten in three of their four Rugby World Cup warm-up matches, but this, a pool game against Australia, was different.

The expectation had been building for some time, with the winners almost certain to top Pool D and therefore avoid a daunting path through the tournament that would likely include England in the quarter-finals and New Zealand in the semis.

"If Wales can win [against Australia] then I expect them to do good things," former captain Sam Warburton told Omnisport.

And just as at the Six Nations, where they celebrated a stunning Grand Slam triumph, Wales stepped up when it mattered most and just about got the job done against regular World Cup foes.

Wales had been beaten by the Wallabies at three consecutive World Cups but ended that run in battling fashion, having also scraped through in the same fixture last November for their first victory over Australia in almost 10 years.

Warren Gatland's side have become the men for the big occasion over the past 12 months and yet may not now have to play an elite side again until the semi-finals.

Perhaps this result says more about Australia, who attempted a brave fightback but won just four Tests in 2018. Michael Cheika's side did not lack for courage but some basic errors at key times meant their World Cup chances took a major hit.

If Wales are to become just the second team - after England in 2003 - to follow up a Six Nations or Rugby Championship success by becoming world champions, it was vital to end their Australia hoodoo listed below.
 

2007: Wales 20-32 AUSTRALIA (pool stage)

After consecutive quarter-final appearances in the prior two finals, Wales would have expected to progress from their pool in 2007. But they were hit by a setback when Australia tore through them in a brutal first-half showing.

The Welsh were 25-3 down at the break and left to tussle with Fiji for second place. A painful late defeat to the Flying Fijians in their final pool match resulted in an early exit.


2011: Wales 18-21 AUSTRALIA (bronze final)

Wales got revenge over Fiji four years later with a pool-stage thrashing but they could not get one over Australia. They avoided the Wallabies in a run to the semi-finals, but the sides' respective defeats to France and New Zealand set up a bronze final meeting.

The Welsh attack could not fire as it had earlier in the tournament and Australia eased to victory, with Leigh Halfpenny's try rescoring some balance to the scoreline but coming far too late.


2015: AUSTRALIA 15-6 Wales (pool stage)

Neither Australia nor Wales were the big-name casualties in a packed Pool A, as England fell at the first hurdle on home turf, but a Twickenham clash to close their pool campaigns would decide who topped the group.

There was not a single try but Bernard Foley's boot proved the difference as the Wallabies defended doggedly, avoiding South Africa in the last eight and enjoying a run all the way to the final. The Springboks dumped out Wales, who could understandably be sick of the sight of Australia by this stage.


2019: Australia 25-29 WALES (pool stage)

Coming into their second pool match as Six Nations Grand Slam champions and having beaten Australia less than 12 months previously, Wales were finally ready to best the Wallabies on the big stage, with the boots of Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell this time crucial.

Wales had to withstand second-half pressure but got the job done and might now be able to target a serious push for the title...

Wales took a huge step towards topping Pool D at the Rugby World Cup with a nail-biting 29-25 win over a fast-finishing over Australia in Tokyo.

First-half tries from Hadleigh Parks and the outstanding Gareth Davies made the Wallabies pay for a slow start and set up a result which should see Wales avoid a quarter-final date with England.

Warren Gatland's men did have their 15-point half-time lead trimmed to one during the second period but held firm with help from Rhys Patchell's vital third three-pointer.

The Scarlets fly-half only came on after Dan Biggar was forced off due to concussion, the lone setback for Wales on Alun Wyn Jones' 130th cap, a national record.

Wales made a fast start in their tournament-opening win over Georgia and did the same on Sunday as a Biggar drop goal punished Australia's turnover from the kick-off.

Fly-half Biggar was involved again for the first try of the match when Parkes rose high to claim an intelligent kick and extend the margin to 10 points in almost as many minutes.

Australia's nerves eventually started to settle and the recalled Adam Ashley-Cooper got his team on the board by meeting Bernard Foley's cross-field kick.

Foley missed the conversion but made amends with a three-pointer prior to the half-hour mark.

The influential Biggar failed a head injury assessment following a try-saving tackle on Samu Kerevi, yet his absence did nothing to hinder Wales.

His replacement, Patchell, nailed a pair of penalties and extended the lead to 23-8 at half-time after Davies made a second interception, this time from Will Genia, and raced clean through, albeit from a seemingly offside position.

Patchell's successful drop goal in the early stages of the second half prompted Michael Cheika to swap Foley for Matt Toomua and it was the latter's break that ended with Dane Haylett-Petty diving over on the right.

Australia grabbed the momentum and reduced the deficit to four points 20 minutes from the end, Michael Hooper squirming over following a sustained period of pressure.

Toomua made both conversions and then put the Wallabies within one point with a successful penalty, but Patchell responded to give a tiring Wales breathing space in the closing moments.


Wales shed Wallabies hoodoo

Gatland's men beat the Wallabies 9-6 in Cardiff in November 2018 but had lost the past five World Cup meetings between the nations.

Ending that run and avenging the 15-6 pool match defeat to Australia four years ago could provide the impetus for a run deep into the tournament.


Cheika's big call backfires

Australia coach Cheika turned to experience to combat Wales, making four changes to the backline that helped secure a 39-21 win over Fiji.

He might be regretting that decision. Foley and Genia were drafted into the halves and, for experienced players accustomed to this stage, were prone to basic errors that invited pressure.


What's next?

The Wallabies have work to do ahead of Saturday's game against a Uruguay side boosted by a surprise win over Fiji, who are Wales' next opponents on October 9.

A fired-up Michael Cheika insists Reece Hodge's three-game suspension will not "derail" Australia as they prepare for a blockbuster Rugby World Cup clash against Wales.

Winger Hodge was retrospectively punished for a high tackle on Peceli Yato in the Wallabies' opening 39-21 win over Fiji in Pool D after the on-field officials took no action.

At his hearing, Hodge said he had not been trained on the new tackling framework and the Australian media reacted with fury to the ban.

Head coach Cheika did not hold back in his criticism before Sunday's encounter in Tokyo.

"I wanted to say something at the start about some chat around the framework not being spoken to the players," he said.

"It came out in the judgement, the judge put a bit in there. I want to make a couple of points: the framework is for referees, not the players, to decide whether there are red or yellow cards in a game.

"The guy's [Hodge] already nervous enough as it is. When people are asking you questions and you have done nothing wrong you are nervous and may not have answers to all the questions on the tip of your tongue.

"People are making a point about us so we thought we would make one back - a bit of tennis.

"We are not going to let it derail us. We will suck it up and get focused on what is important - the match on Sunday."

Experienced duo Bernard Foley and Will Genia have been drafted in as two of four changes for Australia against a Wales side they have beaten in 13 of their previous 14 Tests.

However, it was Warren Gatland's men celebrating victory the last time the teams met in November 2018 and the New Zealander is well aware of the psychological boost that can give Wales.

"Losing games in the last minute in half a dozen contests can be quite demoralising but we really focused on last autumn's campaign and it was really important to us with two big games against Australia and South Africa," said Gatland, whose side beat Georgia 43-14 in their opening match.

"Australia was definitely one we went in trying to right the wrongs and coming away with a win it was a typical old-fashioned Test match."

Captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to make a record-breaking 130th appearance for an unchanged Wales side in a game where victory could potentially provide a more favourable quarter-final tie.

But Gatland is focused purely on the here and now.

"We have not really looked too far ahead. If you do get out of the group all quarter-finals are going to be pretty tough," he added.

"It is about taking one game at a time and trying to build and create momentum."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Australia – Bernard Foley

Cheika's decision to drop Kurtley Beale from the starting XV certainly raised a few eyebrows and means they lose the full-back's attacking skill from deep. The onus will be on Foley to dictate the Wallabies' tempo from fly-half and, with 70 Tests and 619 points to his name, he has the experience to do so.

Wales – Gareth Davies

The scrum-half was influential against Georgia, creating the first and third tries and playing a key role in the second. To unlock the Aussie defence, Wales will need their number nine at his brilliant best.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- Wales have not won consecutive Tests against the Wallabies since a three-match span from 1969 to 1975. 

- This will be the seventh meeting between Australia and Wales at the World Cup, making it the joint-most played fixture in tournament history, along with New Zealand versus France. 

- Wales won their first World Cup encounter with Australia in 1987 (22-21) however the Wallabies have secured victory in each the five meetings since then at the tournament. 

- Wales have won seven of their last eight pool stage games at the World Cup (L1), their only defeat in that span coming against Australia (15-6) in 2015. 

- George North has scored five tries in 13 Tests against Australia (including for the British and Irish Lions); only two European players have scored as many against the Wallabies (Shane Williams – 6, Serge Blanco – 5).

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will make a record-breaking appearance for his country against Australia at the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo.

Sunday's blockbuster Pool D showdown will be Jones' 130th international cap after Wales named an unchanged starting XV to face the Wallabies.

Jones – who earned his first cap in 2006 – equalled the record for most Test appearances for Wales in Monday's 43-14 bonus-point rout of Georgia as the 34-year-old joined Gethin Jenkins on 129 games.

Wales are unchanged for the clash with the Wallabies – Jones to feature in the same pack that eased past Georgia in their tournament opener.

The only change in Wales' match-day squad is on the bench, with Owen Watkin slipping into the 23 jersey in place of veteran full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

 

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Ross Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

Experienced Australia pair Bernard Foley and Will Genia have been named in the starting line-up for the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup showdown with Wales.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has made a raft of changes to the side set to face Wales in Sunday's Pool D blockbuster following Reece Hodge's three-game suspension.

Four new starters have come into the XV, with number 10 Foley, half-back Genia, veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dane Haylett-Petty promoted following Australia's opening 39-21 victory against Fiji.

The quartet's inclusion for the Wales meeting comes at the expense of Nic White, Christian Lealiifano and Kurtley Beale in changes to the backline, while the forward back remains unchanged.

Lealiifano has not been included in the match-day squad, with full-back Beale surprisingly dropped to the bench for the Tokyo fixture in a shock selection shake-up.

Australia – runners-up in 2015 – will be looking to make it two wins from two games at the World Cup as James O'Connor prepares to make his 50th Test appearance for the Wallabies.

 

Australia: Dane Haylett-Petty, Adam Ashley-Cooper, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani.
Replacements: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Nic White, Matt To'omua, Kurtley Beale.

Wales can start dreaming of reaching their first Rugby World Cup final if they beat Australia on Sunday, according to Sam Warburton.

Two-time semi-finalists Wales started their 2019 campaign with a comprehensive 43-14 triumph over Georgia in Pool D but a stiffer test lies in wait in Tokyo on Sunday when they face Australia.

Warren Gatland's side ended a 13-match winless run against the Wallabies last year with a 9-6 success and Warburton sees the latest encounter as critical to Wales' hopes of going further than they ever have before in the tournament, with the winners of Pool D likely avoiding reigning champions New Zealand or England until the final.

"It's the most open World Cup we've ever had," Warburton, who won 74 caps for Wales, told Omnisport.

"They [Australia] are clear front-runners. Australia will be really competitive and if Wales can win against Australia and get out of the group first, I think it will give them the confidence and a slightly easier route - they're probably going to dodge England and New Zealand to the final.

"I think [for] Wales then it will be a really good springboard to get to a World Cup final.

"If they lose then they are going to have to do it the tough way and beat England and beat New Zealand and probably someone like South Africa in the final.

"That Australia game is massive, both teams realise how big that's going to be. If Wales can win that then I expect them to do good things."

Australia had a rotten 2018, with that defeat against Wales one of nine Tests they lost in the year.

They have fared better in 2019, though, and Warburton took notice of their impressive 47-26 victory over New Zealand in August.

"They've got the ability to beat New Zealand without David Pocock," the former British and Irish Lions captain added.

"If you can add David Pocock - and I know they've played them since and lost pretty badly - but it shows that that's in there. Like, it's there somewhere, they've still got it.

"So with Pocock fully fit added to that team, it wouldn't surprise me if they made last four."

 

Open Side by Sam Warburton (HarperCollins) is out now.

Cory Hill has been ruled out of the rest of the Rugby World Cup after he failed to overcome a stress fracture of his fibula, Wales have announced.

Wales had just two fit locks available for their opening Pool D win over Georgia on Monday, as Warren Gatland gave Hill every chance to recover from an injury which has kept him out since February.

However, Gatland told reporters following the 43-14 victory in Toyota City that it was a possibility Hill would return to the UK, and that has now been confirmed.

A statement from the Welsh Rugby Union said Hill had been "unable to recover significantly" from his injury.

The 27-year-old has been replaced in Wales' squad by Bradley Davies.

Ospreys forward Davies, who has 65 caps and appeared at two previous World Cups, is due to arrive in Japan in Wednesday ahead of the meeting with fellow heavyweights Australia.

Gatland also has an injury concern over centre Hadleigh Parkes, who sustained a "bone fracture" in his hand in the clash with Georgia.

In better news for Wales, fly-half Dan Biggar insisted he was fine despite wearing strapping on his left arm throughout the match.

Wales can take plenty of confidence from their dominant victory over Georgia heading into a clash with fellow Rugby World Cup heavyweights Australia, according to coach Warren Gatland.

Six Nations winners Wales put in a superb first-half display in Toyota City in their opening Pool D encounter, securing a 29-0 lead and a bonus point before the interval.

Gareth Davies was in supreme form at scrum-half, with Jonathan Davies, Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams and Liam Williams scoring four of Wales' six tries in the first half.

Gatland's side eased off after the interval, though George North expertly teed up one try before scoring another to complete a 43-14 rout.

Though Gatland acknowledged Wales still had areas to improve on, he has no doubt the victory has put his team in a good place for Sunday's meeting with the Wallabies.

"I think we can take a lot of confidence from that, they're a tough side," Gatland, whose side now top Pool D, said in a news conference.

"We've had some really tight games with them over the year. We tend to get better as tournaments go on.

"We're pleased with the start and there is a lot of room for us to improve for next week. I don't think we tried to hide any moves in the second half.

"We spoke about being smart. In the second half, the ball got slippery. Georgia allowed us a lot of opportunities to get into their half and take chances.

"We have a few things up our sleeve next week. It's tough with a six-day turnaround. We've got to make sure we recover well and then start really planning."

Wales only had two locks - Alun Wyn Jones and Jake Ball - available for Monday's match, with Cory Hill still recovering from a stress fracture in his leg.

However, Gatland confirmed Hill's tournament could well be over.

"Possibly," Gatland said when asked if Hill would be returning to the UK. "In terms of fitness, he will go back to the UK if he is not right. We will assess him tomorrow and just see what progress he has made and how his injury is.

"If it is not good news then he will go back. If they think they can get him to recover then he will stay out. We are just going to assess it overnight.

"You just have to draw a line in the sand. You have to look forward. The players have been outstanding this week, the way the senior players have stepped up."

Slovakia, Hungary and Romania have been hit with UEFA sanctions, including stadium closures, after being charged with racist behaviour by the governing body.

The trio of nations landed in hot water after the recent rounds of Euro 2020 qualifying matches, with incidents of racism among the charges levelled at all three.

Slovakia and Hungary, who met on September 9 in Budapest, must each play their next UEFA competition match behind closed doors, as ordered by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body.

Both were accused of racist behaviour among their fans, with Hungary supporters also found to have thrown objects and set off fireworks, while an additional charge was brought relating to the conduct of the team.

Slovakia fans were also deemed to have engaged in racist chanting, with the same offence committed by Romania's followers as their team took on Spain and Malta earlier this month.

Additionally, Romania supporters invaded the field of play, set off fireworks and threw objects, according to UEFA.

The Romanian Football Federation was ordered to ensure the next UEFA competition match was played behind closed doors, with a second game subject to a one-year probationary suspension.

Financial penalties were also dished out, with fines of €83,000 for the Romanian Football Federation, €67,125 for the Hungarian Football Federation, and €20,000 for the Slovakian Football Association.

Slovakia's next home game is against Wales on October 10, while Hungary host Azerbaijan three days later, and Romania welcome Norway two days on from that. 

Wales made a flying start to their Rugby World Cup campaign as Gareth Davies starred in a dominant 43-14 win over Georgia in Pool D.

The Six Nations winners made a statement of intent in the first half at the City of Toyota Stadium - Gareth Davies pulling the strings as a bonus point was secured with a 29-0 lead heading into the interval.

Jonathan Davies got things started early on, with Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams and Liam Williams getting in on the act as four of Wales' six tries came before the break, while Dan Biggar kept things ticking over with the boot.

With Georgia pulling one back, Wales failed to recapture their first-half form after the restart, though George North teed up one try and scored another to add further gloss to a fine win which sends Warren Gatland's side top of Pool D.

Gareth Davies' pinpoint pass split Georgia's defence open inside three minutes, with Jonathan Davies racing through under the sticks, though Biggar slammed what should have been a simple conversion against the post.

Biggar made no such mistake with a penalty four minutes later and Wales soon doubled their tally of tries - Tipuric's quick feet doing for Georgia this time.

Gareth Davies continued to toy with Georgia, and his wonderful quick take-and-pass set Adams free in the 19th minute, with Liam Williams then wrapping up the bonus point on the stroke of half-time.

Wales' fourth try had come slightly against the run of play, and Georgia had their reward for a strong start to the second half when Shalva Mamukashvili bundled over.

Jaba Bregvadze came on as a substitute shortly after, only to be sent straight back to the sideline after he was penalised for collapsing a maul.

Georgia survived their numerical disadvantage without conceding, but they were undone once more as substitute Tomos Williams latched onto North's excellent grubber.

Levan Chilachava - on his 50th cap - grabbed another Georgia try, but North had the final say when he drove over after Tomos Williams returned the favour with a fantastic offload.

 

Gareth Davies runs the show

The scrum-half featured in all five of Wales' Six Nations fixtures and also scored in three of the pool fixtures at the 2015 World Cup.

He proved too much for Georgia to handle on Monday, creating two of Wales' first three tries either side of playing a crucial role in the second.

Georgia no test for Gatland's men

Wales were sensational in the Six Nations, storming to victory in all five fixtures, yet they won only one of their four warm-up matches.

While they swiftly clicked into gear in this win, Gatland will be well aware there are much sterner challenges to come for his side, with the upcoming clash with Australia crucial in determining who will finish first in the pool.

What's next?

Wales' second Pool D encounter sees them go head-to-head with fellow heavyweights Australia on Sunday, which is also when Georgia face Uruguay.

Wales coach Warren Gatland hopes Alun Wyn Jones can earn more plaudits with a fine performance in his record-equalling 129th Test appearance against Georgia.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions will be the last of the big hitters to kick-off their Rugby World Cup campaign when they take to the field in Toyota on Monday.

As expected, Gatland has named Jones in his line-up and that means the veteran lock will tie Gethin Jenkins' Wales appearance record.

Jones will be key to Wales' hopes of following up their Six Nations success with worldwide domination in Japan and Gatland is keen to see his star man deliver once again in a red shirt.

If he comes through that challege unscathed, the 34-year-old would then be able to claim the record outright in a huge Pool D clash against Australia.

"He has been absolutely outstanding in his services to Welsh rugby," Gatland said of Jones. "He's got better with age - he is like a good wine.

"Hopefully, he comes out of Monday night's game fit and available and, if selected, as he always says, against Australia, he will get that chance to break that Welsh record.

"He doesn't like me talking about these things, but he deserves all the accolades.

"He has been just such a great servant to Welsh rugby and the pleasing thing for me in the last couple of years is that recognition hasn't been just from Wales, it has been worldwide, too.

"People have realised what a contribution he has given to world rugby in terms of his performances and leadership.

"That's pleasing to see, that someone from Wales is recognised as one of the best players in the world in his position."

While Wales have their captain fit and available, opponents Georgia are missing skipper Merab Sharikadze, who is still recovering from injury.

Gatland is not taking them lightly, though, adding: "With Georgia, we know how strong they are up front and their scrum is a weapon. We've got to be competent at scrum time.

"The boys had a good training session this morning. We're really excited - we can't wait for Monday night."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales - Dan Biggar

Gareth Anscombe's pre-tournament knee injury created a space at fly-half and, with Rhys Patchell among the replacements recovering from his own ailment, Biggar is the man who starts the campaign at number 10. He has started just two games for his country in 2019 but has experience on the world stage, having kicked 23 points to see off England four years ago.

Georgia - Tedo Abzhandadze

Abzhandadze, the opposite fly-half, was a star of Georgia's Under-20 team and, still just 20, has earned the starting job at the World Cup, playing what will be only his 10th Test against Wales. His early senior performances have not been entirely convincing and he will need to step up in a big way against the Welsh.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- The only previous meeting between these sides took place in November 2017 when Wales earned a hard-fought 13-6 win.
- Wales come into this fixture having lost their past two Rugby World Cup games. They have never lost three or more in succession at the tournament.
- Among Tier 1 sides, only Argentina have lost as many Rugby World Games to non-Tier 1 opposition as Wales (both three). The Welsh were beaten by Samoa in 1991 and 1999, as well as by Fiji in 2007.
- Georgia have lost 10 out of 10 Rugby World Cup games against Tier 1 opposition, with those defeats coming by an average margin of 33 points.
- Georgia won the 2019 Rugby Europe Championship, the eighth time in the past nine seasons they have triumphed at the second-tier tournament.

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