Gatland: Wales never 'manipulated' the laws

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 06:19
Large warren gatland wales pensive 800

REACTION: Wales coach Warren Gatland denied there was an attempt to manipulate the rules after his team's lacklustre 13-6 victory over Georgia ended controversially.

With Georgia pushing for a try and conversion to level the scores in the final minutes, Wales' substitute prop Tomas Francis was sin-binned and both starting props - Nicky Smith and Leon Brown - had gone off just before the hour mark.

After lengthy discussions between match officials, referee Mathieu Raynal ordered the scrums be uncontested as both Smith and Brown were deemed to be unfit to return.

Georgia changed tack - completely within the rules - by kicking a penalty resulting from Francis' yellow card to touch after initially calling for a scrum, before going through 11 phases of play and then conceding a penalty as Wales grimly held on for the victory.

Gatland insisted he and his coaching team "were as confused as anyone".

"I can promise you there wasn't anything from our point of view in terms of trying to manipulate the laws or anything like that," he said.

"If Leon had have been fit, he definitely would have gone back on the field,"

Gatland said Brown had been withdrawn because of cramp.

"After the yellow card, there was a question whether he could go on. But he had cramped up, his calves were no good.

"Nicky had had a bag on his calf as well. It would have been uncontested anyway with Nicky going back on at tighthead. So (hooker) Kristian Dacey has gone on,"

Georgia coach Milton Haig said: "The comment was that they had two props who were suffering from cramp at the same time, so they couldn't put somebody on.

"It is what it is. There is a process for looking at whether the correct procedure was followed. I am not interested in taking it further.

"There was an opportunity for us at the end to get at least a draw, so I am a little bit disappointed about that,"

Gatland's team had gone into a 10-0 lead at the Principality Stadium through Hallam Amos' try, the only one of the match.

But the Georgians, who have still not beaten a Tier One nation in 17 attempts, stood firm and had closed to within four points after 50 minutes thanks to the boot of Soso Matiashvili.

A Rhys Priestland penalty gave Wales some breathing space until the final confused minutes.

Agence France-Presse