Wednesday, October 4, 2023
HomeSports NewsWales trump Portugal to remain unbeaten

Wales trump Portugal to remain unbeaten

Wales remained unbeaten in Pool C after notching up their second World Cup victory with a hard-fought win over Portugal in Nice on Saturday.

A Wales team featuring 13 changes from their gripping, opening 32-26 win over Fiji withstood some whirlwind Portuguese attack in the opening 30 minutes in Nice before notching up a 28-8 in what was just the second meeting between the two countries.

It continued Wales’ impressive pool phase record under coach Warren Gatland. They have won their past six successive matches, and 12 of their past 14 pool games since 2011, with their only two losses coming against South Africa in Wellington and Australia four years later.

After Samuel Marques missed an early penalty, it was Rees-Zammit who set the Stade de Nice alight, touching down with a trademark opportunistic try to open the score.

Jac Morgan did well to drift wide and half-draw the last defender before feeding the winger who grubbered the ball past Rodrigo Marta down the line, then gathered to dot down.

Ever the showman, Rees-Zammit jumped to his feet and mimicked Portugal football star Ronaldo’s ‘Siuuu’ goal-scoring celebration.

Halfpenny converted as the game went from end to end, Tomos Williams and Christ Tshiunza both producing tackles that stemmed the Portuguese wave.

Veteran Taulupe Faletau confirmed why Wales coach Warren Gatland rates him so highly, the No 8 corner-flagging brilliantly to haul down Nicolas Martins after a smart step and searing break by full-back Nuno Sousa Guedes.

Halfpenny was then also on hand to nullify an attack, again with the line a-begging, before Portugal at least got on the scoreboard through a Marques penalty.

Centre Johnny Williams, who spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for needlessly playing the ball on the floor, spilled the ball as he crashed over the Portugal line thanks to a great combined tackle from props Anthony Alves and Francisco Fernandes.

But captain Dewi Lake made amends from the resulting penalty, driving over for Wales’ second try, also converted by Halfpenny to make it 14-3 at half-time.

Marques missed a penalty early in the second half before Wales turned the screw through their power-based forward game, Morgan burrowing over for the third Welsh try.

Halfpenny made no mistake from the kicking tee and suddenly Portugal, whose sole World Cup appearance also came in France, in 2007, were well on the back foot.

Rio Dyer came up with a great tackle to bundle Raffaele Storti into touch as the replacement threatened in the Welsh 22m area.

Marques spurned a shot at the posts to go for a deep touch and, against the run of play, it paid off as Martins crossed for an unconverted try from a smart front peel move off the line-out.

Gatland had complained bitterly about Wales’ “dumb decisions” around game management in the last quarter against Fiji, allowing the South Sea Islanders to come right back into the game.

But there was no last-minute drama in Nice despite a Gareth Davies try being ruled out for obstruction.

It looked like the Welsh might miss out on a bonus point that could prove to be crucial in a pool that also includes Australia and Georgia, two teams that beat Wales in the November internationals.

But Faletau barrelled over from a five-metre scrum for a fourth try to pile the pressure on the Australia versus Fiji match in St Etienne on Sunday.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: @WelshRugbyUnion/X

Source link


Most Popular

Recent Comments