x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Gatland optimistic for World Cup after Wales win

A comfortable win over Argentina left Warren Gatland confident of Wales's chances for the World Cup next month.

Alun Wyn Jones, who scored the second try for Wales yesterday, wins a lineout ball against Argentina.
Alun Wyn Jones, who scored the second try for Wales yesterday, wins a lineout ball against Argentina.

Warren Gatland believes Wales will travel to the World Cup in a confident frame of mind after completing their warm-up schedule with a victory over Argentina yesterday in Cardiff.

The success followed last weekend's triumph against England, meaning Wales have won five of their last seven Test matches.

Tries from No 8 Andy Powell, lock Alun-Wyn Jones and wing George North, plus 13 points from the boot of James Hook, completed a satisfactory month's World Cup preparation work for Wales.

"We made nine changes for this game, so it was difficult on the guys coming in," said Gatland.

"And it's easy for people to underestimate Argentina. We took a bit of time to settle, but we then took our opportunities very well. The second try especially was very clinical, and it is about taking those opportunities when they are there.

"Argentina are quite difficult to play against at the breakdown, they make it difficult for you to get quick ball, but we will take confidence from our last three performances."

Gatland will name his 30-man World Cup squad tomorrow after spending today finalising plans for a campaign that starts against South Africa in Wellington on September 11.

Stephen Jones (calf), Ryan Jones (calf) and Rhys Priestland (thigh) are all expected to be fully fit by then, with the biggest concern appearing to be prop Gethin Jenkins.

The Cardiff Blues forward is to see a specialist in the next few days regarding a calf muscle injury, although Gatland still retains hope he can play a part in the World Cup.

"Stephen Jones had a scan last night," added Gatland. "He felt the calf a little bit in training, but it is not a huge concern for us. Rhys Priestland is not too far away and Ryan Jones will train next week.

"There is a long way between now and playing South Africa in that first game.

"We believe we are in good shape, physically, and we have won five of our last seven games. We have that confidence."

Flanker Martyn Williams captained Wales on his 99th appearance in what was his final Test match at the Millennium Stadium, and he must now wait to discover if he has done enough to ensure a 15-year international career has a World Cup swansong.

Williams said: "We spoke in the week as a group. For us today, it wasn't about individuals, it was about keeping the momentum going from last week.

"The boys who hadn't played didn't want to be seen to be letting the squad down."

Felipe Contepomi, the Argentine captain, who kicked two penalties and a conversion, was not too despondent about the defeat.

"That was our first Test for a long time, but I believe we made a step forward," said the fly-half.

"In terms of the game plan and structure, we did well, but individual errors in terms of decision-making cost us. The more you play, the less errors you make."

* Press Association