Ruth­less Davies de­ter­mined to ex­tend try-scor­ing record

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup - By Ben Coles in Oita

Six of the 13 tries Gareth Davies has scored for Wales have come in his seven World Cup matches. Now he has his eye on scor­ing twice against Fiji to­day to make it an av­er­age of one per game.

“It’s all right isn’t it,” the scrumhalf, whose lat­est try was his cru­cial in­ter­cep­tion score against Aus­tralia in Tokyo, said af­ter be­ing in­formed of his record. “I will have to try and get two this week.”

Four years ago Davies was the back-up thrust into the spot­light on the eve of the World Cup fol­low­ing Rhys Webb’s cat­a­strophic foot in­jury in Wales’ fi­nal warm-up game.

Now he is fun­da­men­tal to their suc­cess in Ja­pan, as was clear for any­one to see against the Wal­la­bies. Davies spot­ted Will Ge­nia’s slow de­liv­ery from the base of each ruck to re­lease a pass and pounced, in­ter­cept­ing once to score and al­most haul­ing in an­other.

“With Shaun Ed­wards we do a lot of work on our gen­eral line speed and the whole team brings a lot of that,” Davies said. “If I find my­self in the right place at the right time, I like to think I’m pretty quick and I get off the line pretty fast.”

Those dart­ing runs out of the de­fen­sive line come at a risk of leav­ing space be­hind for the op­po­si­tion to ex­ploit, but Davies has earned the trust of the Wales coach­ing staff to pick and choose when to go for those in­ter­cep­tions on his own. “We give him a free li­cence de­fen­sively and he is out­stand­ing in tim­ing and com­ing off the line and putting those play­ers un­der pres­sure from a third de­fender role,” said Wales head coach War­ren Gat­land.

“We have been pleased with him but we also have two other qual­ity nines who can do a job as well.”

Davies, how­ever, is very much the se­nior man at scrum-half, with 46 Test caps com­pared to a com­bined to­tal of 30 for his ri­vals for the No9 shirt, To­mos Wil­liams and Aled Davies.

The scrum-half opted to have “a quiet sum­mer”, in his words, ahead of Wales’s in­tense train­ing camps over­seas, to en­sure he would be in ex­cel­lent shape for the World Cup.

“I didn’t do what I nor­mally do, so there were no trips to Las Ve­gas or any­thing like that,” Davies said. “I knew the camps we had were in Switzer­land and Turkey, I knew they were go­ing to be tough. It was a re­ally tough cou­ple of months but we are all feel­ing good and fit and [ready to] keep that go­ing.”

Wales still re­quire two vic­to­ries to en­sure top spot in Pool D and Fiji pose a sig­nif­i­cant threat. Wings Semi Radradra and Jo­sua Tuisova can make even the best de­fences look fool­ish.

“Some of the in­di­vid­u­als [Fiji] have got are out­stand­ing,” Davies said. “The de­fence will have to be switched on and we will have to keep an eye on them.” Just as Fiji will have to keep an eye on Davies, as he chases more tries on the big­gest stage of all.

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