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Gatland ‘disappointed but proud’ of Twickenham performance

Wales skipper Dafydd Jenkins rises high at Twickenham

Gatland ‘disappointed but proud’ of Twickenham performance

Warren Gatland was “disappointed but proud” of his side’s performance at Twickenham as they led for almost an hour before finally succumbing 16-14 to England in Round 2 of the Guinness Six Nations.

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It was another narrow defeat for Dafydd Jenkins’ men – they were beaten by a point by a fully-loaded Scottish side and now two points by England, who finished third at the World Cup earlier in the season – and despite two defeats they now have three points in the Six Nations table.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t come away with a win. For us, it’s part of the journey we’re on in terms of developing as a team,” said Gatland.

“I said to the players in the changing room that we have to be disappointed with that. We put ourselves in a position where we should have won that game.

“In fairness to England, they went to a kicking strategy from which they got some reward. We made a few errors in the second half that allowed them some possession and territory.

“I just said to them that I think they’re going to be a bloody good team going forward. Today’s part of that process in terms of learning and I’m really proud of the effort.”

“I’m not going to be critical of any individuals, I’ve been through this before with other teams. It takes a bit of time. They’ve made a massive amount of progress in a few weeks. We put ourselves in a position to win today and it’s disappointing we ended up losing.

“When England were down to 13 men, you don’t play in your own 22. You probably think it’s an opportunity to play some territory, get the ball down there and squeeze them.

“That’s part of the learning process. When we review and individuals have a look at the game and some things people could have done better.

An unstoppable driving maul from a line-out earned Wales a penalty try and then Tommy Reffell released Tomos Williams to make the break that led to Alex Mann picking up his second try in as many games.

Wales led 14-5 at the break but failed to add to their tally in the second half. England picked up another try and two penalties from George Ford eventually edged them ahead in the final 10 minutes.

“We defended pretty well and we created stuff. Cam Winnett and Josh Adams made a nice break down the sideline, and we got nothing out of that,” added Gatland.

“We felt really good at half-time, then we tried to get some fresh legs on, but it was tough at the end going down to 14 men when we were trying to get back into the game.

“After not giving away any penalties in the first half, we probably felt on a few occasions we didn’t get the rub of the green.”

Wales head to Dublin in two weeks’ time for the toughest of assignments in Round 3. Ireland made it back-to-back bonus-point wins with a 36-0 home win over Italy at the weekend and currently top the table as they seek to become the first team to win successive Grand Slams.

Wales haven’t won a Championship match in the Irish capital since 2012. Since then it has been 6-4 to the Irish, with one game drawn, in Six Nations encounters,

“The boys have a couple of days off to freshen up and then we’ll start preparing for what is a quality side at the moment in Ireland. Our focus is on getting better from game to game,” added Gatland.

“I think we’ve done that. We came out and started well today after the second half last week – we just have to make sure we take the learnings from the two games.

“We’ve got a wide spectrum of players – some players are incredibly young and finding their feet, while some players have experience. I’m excited by this group. From what we’ve shown in the last couple of weeks, we’ve got the potential to be a really good side, which is pretty exciting. My message for the Welsh public is to have a bit of patience.

“Hopefully, people can see what we’re trying to do as a squad. Alex Mann is the perfect example. We’ve got a group of youngsters and our role as coaches is to make them better and let them learn from these experiences.

“We went to Twickenham without any fear and a lot of confidence we could win the game. Unfortunately, we fell a little short. The fact we’re playing a quality side in Ireland next up, it will be a level up.

“The boys are desperate to get a win, and the challenge for us is just how important winning is. A number of players are coming from regional teams that haven’t had a lot of success.

“They’ve probably got used to not having that ‘W’ next to their name after performances. That’s why it’s important we start doing that and be positive about doing that.

“One of the great things about playing for Wales is the players come into this environment with confidence, believing they’re good enough to win. We’ve just got to keep building on that and one of these games will bring that.”

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