Gatland happy for 'special' Wales to stay under the radar

By Sports Desk February 23, 2019

Warren Gatland says Wales are happy to "keep going along under the radar" ahead of the Rugby World Cup after claiming a historic win over England to go top of the Six Nations table.

Wales came from 10-3 down at half-time to secure a 21-13 victory at a raucous Principality Stadium on Saturday, Cory Hill and Josh Adams scoring the decisive tries.

Gatland's side have now won a record 12 consecutive Tests and lead England by two points with clashes against Scotland and Ireland to come.

When asked about Wales being contenders to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan, Gatland told BBC Sport: "Apparently not for a lot of pundits out there.

"We just keep our head down and keep going along under the radar. It's a pretty special group of boys at the moment."

Gatland was impressed by the way his side stepped it up in the second half of a titanic tussle, after being second best in the opening 40 minutes.

"We created a lot of problems for ourselves in the first half and I don't think England created anything really. They didn't put us under any pressure, it was pressure we put on ourselves." he added.

"We were much better in the second half and we got stronger as the game went on. 

"I spoke to the guys in the changing rooms and said the pain we went through last week and how hard we trained really paid off today.

"We worked a lot on our pick and go; we thought that was an opportunity to exploit England in that area. Our aerial game was really good, we did a lot of work on that, and I thought tactically [in the] second half we were really good."

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    Saturday's Pool C showdown in Tokyo is a re-run of the first game of the 2007 World Cup, where the Pumas stunned their hosts with a 17-12 victory.

    A repeat would likely be met with a collective shrug rather than a howl of outrage from a French public used to the frustrating inconsistencies of a national side that has only finished above fourth in the Six Nations once since 2011.

    "I think that today nobody believes in us and so we'll try to prove everybody wrong," Clermont Auvergne wing Penaud told reporters.

    "We're now going to say between us we'll do the job together with a cool head and ignore the rest."

    France head coach Jacques Brunel has selected Toulouse duo Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont in the half-back positions.

    Gregory Alldritt got the nod at number eight ahead of Louis Picamoles for the first game in what is set to be a fiercely contested pool, given England, Tonga and the United States complete the five.

    Ntamack's opposite number at 10 is a familiar face in the form of Stade Francais' Nicolas Sanchez – one of only three players in the Argentina squad to ply his club trade outside of his homeland.

    Coach Mario Ledesma chose to lean heavily upon home-based talents, although Saracens' Juan Figallo starts at prop and Castres' Benjamin Urdapilleta is on the bench.

    Back-rower Juan Manuel Leguizamon – a veteran of three World Cup campaigns – will have to wait to draw level with Felipe Contepomi's 87-cap record for the Pumas after missing out on Ledesma's 23.

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    France – Romain Ntamack

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    Argentina – Emiliano Boffelli

    Starting at full-back but also a capable performer on the wing, Boffelli's long-range prowess from the tee could certainly come in handy if a tight battle ensues.

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    - Argentina won the most lineouts (41), turnovers (24) and made the most offloads (35) of any team in The Rugby Championship 2019.
    - Jeronimo De La Fuente of Argentina made the most tackles (34) of any back in the Rugby Championship 2019. His tally was the fourth-most of any player overall.
    - France's Yoann Huget averaged the most metres per carry (10.3) of any player to make more than 20 carries in the 2019 Six Nations. Only England’s Jonny May (six) scored more tries than Huget’s four across the campaign.

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    The Boks will honour Chester Williams this weekend, wearing a jersey with the 1995 World Cup winner's image embedded into the numbers on the back. Williams died a fortnight ago, at the age of 49.

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    New Zealand - Beauden Barrett

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    It may not prove to be the case in the long run, but New Zealand feel a little vulnerable going into the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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    Japan have improved since 2015. Italy? Not so much. The hosts can justifiably think a quarter-final slot is within reach, but the Azzurri look doomed in Pool B alongside the All Blacks and the Boks. Currently placed inside the world's top 10, Fiji will likely have to beat one of Australia or Wales just to make it out of their group. The other nations will hope for damage limitation against the big boys and aim to take points off each other in their remaining fixtures. 

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