Sunday 21 January 2018

Alun Wyn-Jones: Now Wales have to do it the hard way

Adam Ashley-Cooper of Australia breaks away from Alun Wyn Jones
Adam Ashley-Cooper of Australia breaks away from Alun Wyn Jones

Alun-Wyn Jones accepts that Wales will need to "do it the hard way" in their quest for Rugby World Cup glory.

Wales' 15-6 defeat against Australia in Saturday's Pool A decider at Twickenham considerably increased their tournament degree of difficulty.

Victory over the Wallabies would have meant a quarter-final appointment with Scotland next Sunday, but they must now tackle twice world champions South Africa 24 hours earlier, and if they win that, then New Zealand potentially await.

World Cup history is also stacked against Wales, with no team during seven previous stagings having won the tournament after finishing runners-up in their group.

"If we are going to win the World Cup, we are going to have to do it the hard way," Wales lock Jones said.

a first

"Nobody has ever done it from finishing second in their pool, but there has got to be a first.

"We have lost to one southern hemisphere team, but if we're going to progress to where we want to be, then we are going to have to beat another two.

"They (South Africa) faltered in their first match (against Japan) but, like a lot of teams, they have grown throughout the tournament.

"We pushed them last summer and gave a good performance to beat them last autumn. I think they still have a point to prove after their initial performance (against Japan). They will be disappointed with their start, but they have grown into the tournament and you can't discount them."

Wales failed to capitalise on the scoreboard when Australia had two players - Will Genia and Dean Mumm - sin-binned, and Jones added: "We were held up (over the line) three times.

"We should have capitalised when they were down to 13 men, but we didn't, and you have got to move on.

Australia, meanwhile, will be glad of an extra day's rest before their quarter-final, according to assistant coach Nathan Grey.

The Wallabies were still assessing injuries to flanker David Pocock (calf), fullback Israel Folau (ankle) and centre Matt Giteau (rib) as they turned their focus to next weekend's last-eight encounter with Scotland.

"There's a few sore bodies, it was a physical game but everyone's got a smile on their face," winger Adam Ashley-Cooper said.

"It was a very proud performance, it was a gutsy effort, particularly that 10-minute effort from the team when we were two men down.

"It was highly stressful, I won't lie. But we held together when our backs were against the wall and we never gave up."


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