Warren Gatland out to turn up the heat on England ahead of potential Six Nations Championship decider
- Wales beat Italy at the Stadio Olympico to maintain their long unbeaten streak
- England and Wales could meet in a potential decider for Six Nations in Cardiff
- However, Wales have underwhelmed in both wins against Italy and France
Warren Gatland wants Wales to lure England into a false sense of security before a potential Six Nations Championship decider in Cardiff at the end of the month.
The Welsh have not lost in nearly a year now, and ticked off their 11th consecutive win in Rome to equal the national record that has stood for 109 years.
But a shocking first-half in Paris and a disjointed 80 against Italy, despite winning two from two like England, Wales have underwhelmed.
Josh Adams scores the first try in Wales 26-15 win over Italy in Rome on Saturday
However knowing they must improve so keen is Gatland to pile the pressure on Eddie Jones, that he is hoping their lack of fluency so far means Wales are written off for the Principality Stadium clash.
‘We have probably helped ourselves a little bit by not playing as well as we could have and as a result everyone will start talking England up,’ he said, helping with that by heaping praise on England.
‘Sometimes that’s easier to help motivate yourself if that does happen.’ ‘I thought the England performance against Ireland was the best I have seen from an England team in the last five years. Tactically they were outstanding.’
All said with a twinkle in the eye, Gatland knows what awaits England in the Welsh capital will be like nothing they have faced so far.
Warren Gatland wants to lure England into a false sense of security before they meet in Cardiff
And with a long build-up to that massive match he is sure Wales will be ready.
‘Everyone before the start of the tournament thought that the decider might come down to that last game with Ireland,’ he added.
‘But obviously now there are just two of us still in the chance for a Grand Slam and the Triple Crown, so there will be no lack of motivation.
‘It will be electric in the Principality Stadium, and it gives us a chance to be at home. Once you are on a run like this you don’t want it to go.
‘The nice thing is we have two weeks together in the build-up to the England match, and we are excited about it.
‘We have a few things to work on, which is always pleasing – and a couple of really tough weeks of training.’
Wales maintained their long unbeaten streak despite a disjointed performance against Italy
Precious few Rome new-boys pressed a serious claim to start the England game. Thomas Young went well on Championship debut, but is unlikely to win a back-row slot ahead of Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty and Josh Navidi.
The latter talked up the Welsh flanking stocks – their stable of sevens in stark contrast to England.
‘We’re breeding back-rowers at the moment,’ said Navidi.
‘We could be in England’s position where they are looking for a seven. We have a number coming through in Wales.’
Otherwise Six Nations starting debutant Aled Davies was ponderous, and will surely be replaced by the nippier Gareth Davies, and Leicester’s Jonah Holmes – by his own admission – would have been disappointed not to take his chance.
Dan Biggar did not grasp the No 10 shirt either, despite scoring 14 points. Owen Watkin, Josh Adams scored Wales’ tries with Angelo Esposito and Braam Steyn scoring for Italy.
England and Wales could meet in a potential decider for Six Nations Championship in Cardiff
On making 10 changes Gatland said: ‘Look, if I had it over again you might question if it was the right thing to do to make so many changes but we have done that, got the win.
‘You question if you kept the same team and had a real convincing win, maybe the other question would be why didn’t you use more of the squad when you had the chance to?
‘Hindsight is a great thing. For us to get two victories and two away wins is an outstanding start. It was not a great performance today but it is a great start to the tournament.
‘Things are in our own hands, with two big home games to come.’ And lock Jake Ball knows Wales owe England one after the way they lost last year, with a Gareth Anscombe try controversially disallowed in a 12-6 Twickenham defeat.
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