Wales make statement of World Cup intent

Warren Gatland's side have the bonus point wrapped up by half-time, then ease off and make the changes to keep things fresh for Australia.

TOYOTA, 23 Sep - Wales made a huge statement of intent - in the first half at least - as they comfortably overcame Georgia 43-14 in their opening Pool D game at the City of Toyota Stadium.

Coach Warren Gatland's side secured the bonus point in the opening 40 minutes as they ran in four tries with some devastating set-piece plays.

And though they added two more in a scrappy second half, the Lelos were vastly improved as they scored two tries of their own - something that will have Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards asking questions.

"We have been watching the games the last few days and the guys were itching to get on the field. I'm pleased with our first-half performance, we were pretty clinical, but we let things slip in the second half," said Gatland.

"We lost some continuity by making some changes and keeping players as fresh as we can. We were pretty clinical in that first half but missed a few opportunities. There are things we can work on."

Wales know sterner tests are to come starting with Sunday's game against Australia in Tokyo, which should decide who wins the pool.

But the first half showed Wales are determined to mount a serious challenge for the World Cup crown in Gatland's final campaign as coach.

Winger Josh Adams has carried his fine form from the Six Nations to the global stage as he scored one try and played a part in another.

Flanker Justin Tipuric had a huge impact and was also rewarded with a try while Dan Biggar - told by Wales legend J.J. Williams that his country would never win a World Cup while he was at fly-half - impressed with his sheer speed of pass to set up two tries.

The Northampton No.10 somehow managed to hit the post with his first conversion attempt from right in front of the sticks, but atoned for the howler with four successful kicks after that.

Georgia deserve credit for the way they responded to their hapless opening 40 minutes - when they committed far too many unforced errors - with a spirited display in a second half in which the teams scored 14 points apiece.

By then, though, Wales had clearly eased off as Gatland took advantage of having the bonus point by making changes to protect key men.

After the build-up to their opening match was overshadowed by the return home of assistant coach Rob Howley to face a World Rugby investigation, Wales got the start they were looking for after two minutes.

Jonathan Davies sauntered through the Georgia defence to score his 16th try for Wales, equalling Tom Shanklin's Welsh record for a centre.


Tipuric and Adams added two more by the 20th minute as Wales again found it all too easy to breach huge gaps in the Georgian defence. But it took Wales until the last move of the half to secure the bonus point as full-back Liam Williams scored.

Georgia must have been given a stern half-time team talk as they emerged to score a quick try, hooker Shalva Mamukashvili forcing his way over from a rolling maul with Tedo Abzhandadze converting.

Wales finally added a fifth try when replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams chased a magnificent kick from George North to score in the 64th minute.

Georgia deservedly added a second try through replacement Levan Chilachava - Abzhandadze again converting - but North had the final word with Wales's sixth.

"This was a really cold shower for us, so we're going to work on our mistakes for the Uruguay game and hopefully we're going to play our game a bit better there," said Mamukashvili.

RNS ig/pr/djk/sw