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'Improved' Wales eye Bok scalp

Thu, 19 Jun 2014 16:01
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We coped a lot better in the second half
Quote-end

Wales traditionally bounce back from a poor start on their Southern Hemisphere tours and they will be looking to do the same in their second Test against the Springboks in Nelspruit on Saturday, said coach Warren Gatland.

Gatland was speaking at the team's base in White River, where they were welcomed by summer-like conditions on Thursday - compared to the cold weather they encountered in Cape Town, where they were based during the week.

"It has happened on each tour that we've gone to in the southern hemisphere, we've struggled in that first game and in the first half and we struggled with the pace, intensity and the physicality that southern hemisphere brings in that first period," Gatland said.

"We seem to cope a lot better in the second half and if you look in the last tours we've significantly improved from the first to the second Test."

Gatland said the players were well aware that they had turned in a below-par performance in the first of two Tests, but he was confident they would respond in a positive way.

The Wales mentor made two changes to the run-on side that will be looking to make amends for the comprehensive 16-38 defeat they suffered at the hands of South Africa in Durban last Saturday.

Injured Welsh prop Adam Jones was replaced by Samson Lee.

Gatland also drafted flank Josh Turnbull into the run-on side in the place of Aaron Shingler, with the hope he would be able to slow down South Africa's possession.

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux ran amok in last weekend's match where he had a massive hand in all five of South Africa's tries.

"Willie le Roux caused us some problems - our line speed was way down on what it should be, so we've given them ball," Gatland said.

"It was difficult when we were down to 14 men, we weren't coming down the line aggressive enough, which was difficult for the tighties [tight forwards] going from defensive ruck to defensive ruck."

The Welsh will be looking to disrupt the Boks at the breakdown which would in turn, slow down the pace.

This will be the second time a Test will be played at the Mbombela Stadium in the Lowveld after the Springboks beat Scotland there last year.

The playing surface took a pounding after Samoa and Italy played in the match before, while the sticky and heavy pitch slowed down the pace.

It should not be an issue this time around and the 3pm kick-off could also play into the Springboks' hands as the Lowveld heat could further tire the Welsh down.

Gatland said there were positives they could take from the match and called for greater continuity from his charges.

"We've got to be prepared in the first 20 to 30 minutes when South Africa do come at you," he said.

"We're really happy with the way we started the game and the way we created opportunities early on and took three points but we then just switched off."

SAPA

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