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State of play after the Summer Nations Series: Wales

State of play after the Summer Nations Series: Wales

State of play after the Summer Nations Series: Wales

Wales ended the Summer Nations Series with a record of one win and two defeats, but now they must turn their attention to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The tournament is less than three weeks away, but we have learnt so much about Warren Gatland’s side during their matches against Guinness Six Nations rivals England and defending world champions South Africa.

So, with Wales’ World Cup opener against Fiji fast approaching, let’s take a closer look at the state of play in the wake of a thrilling Summer Nations Series.

@autumnnationsserieslet battle commence ❤️♬ original sound – Autumn Nations Series ⚡️

Summer Nations Series record

Wales got their Summer Nations Series campaign underway with an encouraging 20-9 triumph over old rivals England at Principality Stadium.

It was a feel-good affair for the hosts, with Leigh Halfpenny kicking 10 points on his 100th Wales appearance and Jac Morgan enjoying the perfect start to life as captain.

Gareth Davies and George North scored Wales’ tries, but Gatland’s side were particularly impressive in defence during a resolute first-half performance.

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They could not record back-to-back victories over Steve Borthwick’s team though, falling to a 19-17 defeat at Twickenham a week later.

The result showed there is still plenty of room for improvement, with Wales failing to capitalise on England’s ill-discipline.

Both Freddie Steward and Henry Arundell saw yellow in West London, while Owen Farrell was shown a red card for a high tackle on Taine Basham.

Next up was South Africa, but a young Wales struggled to live with the power and skill of the reigning world champions on their way to a 52-16 defeat.

Sure, they were outmuscled in attack and defence, but more worryingly, they lacked the execution you would expect from a Gatland team.

However, Jacques Nienaber named a near full-strength side for the clash, while Wales handed some of their future stars the opportunity to impress against some of the world’s best.

Star Player – Jac Morgan

Morgan will co-captain Wales with Dewi Lake at the World Cup after two impressive displays in the Summer Nations Series.

The back-row star captained his country for the first time in their victory against England, leading from the front during a defensive first half before showing his attacking talent after the break.

He was not involved in the defeat at Twickenham, but there was no shame in his performance against South Africa.

Wales may have fallen to a heavy defeat, but Morgan did not let his standards drop at any point.

Room for Improvement – set-piece

Wales’ set-piece looked like it was back to its best in their Summer Nations Series opener, but things quickly took downturn as August progressed.

Their line-out was disappointing at Twickenham, with the visitors losing six off of their own throw as hookers Lake and Sam Parry struggled to find a red shirt.

Then the scrum started to malfunction against South Africa.

Springbok props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe are two of the best in the world, dwarfing their Welsh rivals Corey Domachowski and Keiron Assiratti in terms of experience, and they gained the upper hand.

However, Wales still gave away too many penalties and looked out of their depth throughout.

Final World Cup squad

Forwards: Taine Basham, Adam Beard, Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Ryan Elias, Taulupe Faletau, Tomas Francis, Dafydd Jenkins, Dewi Lake (co-captain), Dillon Lewis, Dan Lydiate, Jac Morgan (co-captain), Tommy Reffell, Will Rowlands, Nicky Smith, Gareth Thomas, Henry Thomas, Christ Tshiunza, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs: Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies, Rio Dyer, Mason Grady, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Liam Williams, Tomos Williams.

World Cup prospects

Gatland believes this Wales side may surprise a few people at the World Cup, and they have the talent to do just that.

Not only is the squad littered with prodigious young stars like Morgan, Rio Dyer and Lake, but there is plenty of experience in there too.

This squad of players have not had long to adapt to Gatland’s demanding style or gel together as a group, but they are in a wide-open section of the draw.

They face Australia, Fiji, Georgia and Portugal in Group C and will expect to reach the knock-out rounds, where they could face England, Argentina or Japan. Picking a winner would be anyone’s guess, but Wales won’t be intimidated by any of their potential quarter-final opponents.

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