Sloppy Wales set up World Cup quarter-final with France
Kumamoto (Japan) (AFP)
Wales set up a Rugby World Cup quarter-final with Six Nations rivals France as they topped Pool D with a far-from-perfect 35-13 win over minnows Uruguay on Sunday.
A largely second-string Welsh side committed a slew of handling errors and forward passes but eventually had too much firepower, with two late tries putting some gloss on the scoreboard.
A day after Typhoon Hagibis had wreaked havoc across Japan, conditions were perfect for running rugby at Kumamoto Stadium on southern Kyushu island.
But in a match that should have been straightforward for the Six Nations champions, Wales -- who played a bruising game with Fiji only four days earlier -- struggled to establish their dominance.
Coach Warren Gatland said Wales were "poor at times" but added that he was happy to come through the game without further injuries, and expected to have a full squad to choose from against France.
"Hopefully everyone will be fit and available for next week. Nothing looks serious from tonight," he said.
"We had a couple of guys who were pretty sore after the Fiji game -- two or three of them -- but they should be back training in a couple of days so we should have a full complement to be able to choose from."
When the final whistle blew Wales had enjoyed 66 percent of possession and 73 percent of territory, yet it took three tries in the last 15 minutes to give them a respectable scoreline.
For most of the match it was a sloppy display, although Wales at least completed pool play unbeaten for the first time since the inaugural World Cup in 1987.
Uruguay, who shocked Fiji in their tournament opener, threatened an even bigger upset when they trailed by only one point at half-time.
Wales had dominated all the right statistics, forcing Uruguay to make 90 tackles while missing 19 more in the opening 40 minutes.
But they seemed bereft of ideas and finesse, letting themselves down with a succession of knock-ons, and turned only 7-6 ahead.
- Errors cost Amos -
Gatland, who made 13 changes to the side that started against Fiji on Wednesday, could not have been impressed with the high error-count.
Wales camped inside the Uruguay 22 for most of the first 16 minutes before they were eventually rewarded with a try.
Bradley Davies had lost the ball close to the line early in the match and Aaron Shingler put a foot in touch as he dived for the line, before prop Nicky Smith broke the deadlock when he drove over from close range.
Wales were unable to score again in the half, blowing another scoring opportunity when Hadleigh Parkes and Hallam Amos combined in a 50-metre run only for the final pass to float forward.
It was the first of three times Amos crossed the line and each time the try was ruled out -- twice for forward passes, and one knock-on.
Uruguay, meanwhile, made the most of the scraps that went their way with Felipe Berchesi landing two penalties to keep the pressure on Wales.
Josh Adams, Wales' three-try hero against Fiji, opened the scoring in the second half to push Wales out to a 14-6 lead before their late scoring burst.
When Uruguay flanker Santiago Civetta was yellow-carded for repeated fouls, Wales used the one-man advantage to drive at the line which resulted in a penalty try.
Uruguay were not done and fought back to drive over for a try of their own to hooker German Kessler.
But Wales had too much energy at the end and Tomos Williams added a fourth try before Davies scampered 40 metres for Wales's final five-pointer.
© 2019 AFP