Rugby World Cup 2015: Wales counts cost of heroics

Welsh players celebrate after their 28-25 victory over England but they may lose more players to injury. Picture: Getty Images
Welsh players celebrate after their 28-25 victory over England but they may lose more players to injury. Picture: Getty Images
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WALES’ stirring but injury-ravaged World Cup campaign looks set to take another major double hit. Centre Scott Williams and wing Hallam Amos suffered knee and shoulder injuries respectively during the stunning 28-25 Pool A victory over World Cup hosts England at Twickenham on Saturday evening.

he signs do not look promising for Wales head coach Warren Gatland, who has already lost Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb and Cory Allen from his original 31-man squad.

Speaking yesterday at the Wales team base, assistant coach and defence specialist Shaun Edwards confirmed there is potential for fresh injury setbacks. “Potentially, we could lose more,” he said. “But we just have to keep showing the resilience we have shown so far in the competition. We have to dust ourselves off and get on with it.

“Hallam Amos and Scott Williams are definitely the biggest concerns, long-term. But I think the resilience shown by these players means that, if we have another player or two out of the World Cup, it just means someone else will step up and perform like we did last night.”

In a physically brutal match, England built up 19-9 and 22-12 leads through big defence and set-piece domination, but couldn’t put the Welsh away and froze in the final 25 minutes.

Dan Biggar’s flawless kicking kept Wales in touch before a try by scrumhalf Gareth Davies tied the scores at 25-25 with eight minutes left.

By that stage, Wales had lost three backs – in a four-minute spell – to add to their extensive injury list and leave the back division with two scrum-halves, two stand-offs and three players out of position.

Biggar kicked another penalty, his seventh in a row, to put Wales in front but the English had a chance at a draw when they earned a penalty with two minutes left. England captain Chris Robshaw chose to go for a lineout rather than give Owen Farrell – who had been six from six from the kicking tee – a shot at goal from the right touchline. The decision backfired as Wales’ pack snuffed out the danger with a big shove. The final whistle was met by disbelief from many at Twickenham.

If worst fears are confirmed with Williams and Amos, it could mean calls for the likes of James Hook, Gareth Anscombe or Tom Prydie, but unbeaten Wales have little time to lick their wounds, with Millennium Stadium visitors Fiji next up on Thursday.

“We would probably look first at the original [training] squad, but we are in a situation now where we might have to spread our wings even further,” Edwards added. “Everybody is in our thoughts because we have had an incredibly bad run of luck with injuries.

“I don’t think we will be resting too many players [against Fiji], but obviously that is down to the boss [Gatland].”

Reflecting on the game – it was Wales’ third win against England at Twickenham since Gatland took charge in early 2008 – Edwards saluted the players. “Warren said that it’s up there with some of the best games he has had in his life,” Edwards said. “Sometimes you just have to dig deep and show your resilience. That’s what our guys did and good on them.”