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Gatland impressed by improving Wales

Gatland impressed by improving Wales

Gatland impressed by improving Wales

Warren Gatland said his players’ exceptional performance against England put down a marker after Wales claimed a 20-9 victory over their age-old rivals in the Summer Nations Series.

Leigh Halfpenny celebrated 100 Wales caps when he started at full-back and kicked 10 points for his side to mark the occasion.

Gareth Davies and George North’s tries made all the difference to the scoreline as props Corey Domachowski and Keiron Assiratti made their debuts from the start.

Wales smothered England defensively and limited them to just three first-half penalties.

Gatland said: “In 2019 when we won the Grand Slam, we had a settled side and we knew what a large number of our World Cup squad was going to be.

“I can tell you now there’s a lot of competition in this team. The team today did exceptionally well and the players put a marker down today.

“I think we’ve done a lot of work as a group in the last eight weeks. The lineout defence was excellent and we competed well.

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“Despite the scrum penalties, I thought we dominated there. I need some clarity from the referee in terms of the decisions.

“We were winning the collisions and the hit. The new props learned a bit about how to cope with those situations. They will have learnt a huge amount from this experience.

“Despite the penalties, I was happy with them.”

Max Llewellyn, Taine Plumtree and Henry Thomas were among more debutants who gave Gatland plenty to think about, almost six months on from Wales’ 20-10 Six Nations defeat at the Principality Stadium.

Jac Morgan took captain responsibilities for the first time with confidence to the delight of his coach, leading the defensive effort and setting up a try at seven.

Wales face England in the reverse fixture at Twickenham next week as all roads lead to the Rugby World Cup in France next month.

Gatland added: “The Six Nations was challenging. I made the decision then to let that go and then build after with my own stamp. Not just for the World Cup, but after that.

“There’s a few players in their last cycle and we need to think about the next four years.

“It’s a good start. The pleasing thing is there’s a group of players who will get an opportunity next week who are desperate to perform.”

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