Gatland emotional after Wales shock

Date published: September 27 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_GettyImages-490161704

Wales head coach Warren Gatland was understandably thrilled with his side's resolve as they fought back to defeat England at Twickenham.

Gatland first addressed Chris Robshaw's decision to go for the corner instead of attempt a kickable penalty in the closing stages, which could have levelled the scores at 28-28.

"I thought they would have gone for goal for the draw. It was a big call to make, a brave call to make," Gatland said.

"We had practiced on where they had caught us out in the past throwing to the front of the lineout and we pushed them into touch.

"Those are the decisions you make sometimes – you win that and you're a hero, make the wrong call and you're zero. We spoke about as coaches and we said we'd take the three points, that's what I would have done."

Assessing his side's performance Gatland couldn't speak highly enough of how well his players coped with a backline reshuffle and being behind on the scoreboard until the final stages.

"We struggled at scrum time to start, a couple of decisions went against us. There was no half-time panic, we changed the way we played tactically by attacking the 13 channel. The message at half-time was that we weren't out of the game, we've been here before. We kept battling away and have come away with the win," Gatland added.

"What pleased me was we looked the stronger team in the last 10 to 15 minutes, which is testament to the hard work that has gone into this group of guys.

"The celebrations in the changing room were amazing – to think we had two 10s, Biggar at full-back, Liam Williams on the wing, George North at centre and we coped with that… I'm incredibly proud of the boys and the performance. It's up there with one of the biggest wins that I've ever been involved in."

"I don't think I've shown as much emotion as I did in the 80 minutes today, because it meant a lot to me personally, to the coaches and the players.

"Today was about some courage and there's no one that knows more than those players how hard they've worked over the last few months. We spoke beforehand about the responsibility and leadership. If you want it bad enough then it can happen for you, you just have to dig deep. The way they stuck at their task and were a bit more expansive in the second half… I can't ask for anymore and we wanted it more in the end.

A negative for Wales were their injuries, with Gatland admitting that Scott Williams' knee "didn't look good" ahead of a five-day turnaround before facing Fiji.

"We have a five-day turnaround and have a little recovery and injury assessment with Sunday and Monday off, before training and then Thursday's game where we need to front up and get a result. Fiji aren't the worst team and they have been pretty unlucky," he believed.

"England have got to beat Australia so it's a little bit of wait and see.

"It's massive. If we could win today and then win against Fiji, then the England-Australia game is huge and the pool could be over by that stage."

Gatland paid a special tribute to fly-half Dan Biggar, who kicked 23 of Wales' 28 points and held his nerve when it mattered most.

The Wales boss said: "It was a great kicking display. He's kept us in the game. He probably made a defensive error on England's first try and it played on his mind with that handling error at the start of the second half, but he's such a competitor and a fighter. I can't ask anymore than the players gave today."

Wales captain Sam Warburton joined Gatland in praising the Welsh squad for their resilience in the closing stages, including the final moments when they held England out.

"It's definitely up there. It was an amazing win given the circumstances," Warburton said.

"We never doubted the strength in depth in the squad. People outside didn't think we could come to England and get that win but we have a good squad, and the guys off the bench, their quality is unbelievable and that lifted us.

"That scenario [in the closing minutes] isn't unusual for us. England had a driving lineout and there's nothing technical defensively at that point, it's about to desire and will to win.

"Not much was said, but you could tell from the eye contact how desperate we were to defend that. I've celebrated much harder at the end of other games, but this was just relief, it was such a battle for 80 minutes. I'm extremely proud of the forwards effort."

COMMENTS