Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Wales stumble into town

Warren Gatland, Head Coach of Wales. Photo / Getty Images.
Warren Gatland, Head Coach of Wales. Photo / Getty Images.

Wales wanted a build-up but got a let-down ahead of their test series with the All Blacks.

Coach Warren Gatland was hunting attitude in his side's tour rehearsal against England as a first step towards Wales delivering some serious sting when they start their tour at Eden Park in a fortnight.

Wales stumbled on that measure with limited evidence of their mental sharpness and plenty of rusty combinations. Hopes of arriving with enough confidence to rattle the World Cup champions had taken another thump.

"That is going to be a massive challenge because, looking at some of their teams in Super Rugby, they have been red-hot," Gatland said.

Those pre-game concerns took a gloomier twist after Wales failed to emulate any form like their World Cup pool win against England.

"What's going to be key in New Zealand is being able to keep the tempo for 80 minutes and that's where we struggled against England in the second half," Gatland said.

"That was the whole reason for the game, to prepare to play a team like the All Blacks who keep going for the whole 80 minutes. I think we can be ready with more conditioning work in training and getting a little bit more accuracy in our attack."

After Wales traipsed off Twickenham, thumped 27-13, Gatland did his best to promote their trip to New Zealand, saying "there are no things we can't fix."

Many of the squad had not played a match of that standard for some time and there were issues around lineout security and the speed of their defensive line.

Statistics showed Wales missed 21 tackles and conceded 21 turnovers which will be even more worrying with captain Sam Warburton still on the mend from a shoulder problem and his deputy Dan Lydiate replaced at Twickenham with shoulder and hamstring damage and out of the tour.

Wales led by 10 points early, then lost by a wide margin as England scored five tries to one although George Ford missed four conversions and two penalties which would have turned it into a blowout.

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