‘ A knock to the face doesn’t mean you’re con­cussed’

The Observer - Sport - - Rugby Union Under Armour Series - Michael Ayl­win

Re­lieved to have started an au­tumn cam­paign with a win at last, War­ren Gat­land dis­missed the no­tion that next Satur­day’s as­sign­ment against Aus­tralia rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity to shake off an­other hex. The last time Wales beat Aus­tralia was 10 years and 13 matches ago.

“I don’t look at that,” he said. “There have been games when we’ve been lead­ing go­ing into the fi nal minute and con­ceded a try or a penalty. If you look at the points dif­fer­ence in those games, there’s been noth­ing in it. It would be nice to get a re­sult but the more im­por­tant game is go­ing to be at the World Cup.”

Wales ha d not opened their au­tumn with a win since they beat Ro­ma­nia in 2002 but Gat­land is not in­clined to read too much into that, ei­ther. “If we’d come up against Aus­tralia to­day we would have strug­gled, just with them hav­ing come off the Rugby Cham­pi­onship. That’s why we have strug­gled a lit­tle bit , be­cause the fi rst game of the au­tumn has tended to be against New Zealand, South Africa or Aus­tralia.”

Ken Owens, Wales’s hooker, took a nasty blow to the head to­wards the end of the fi rst half, when he col­lided with Ryan Wil­son as the two went for the ball , but Gat­land gave short shrift to the in­quests on so­cial me­dia. “Ken is fi ne,” he said. “He has taken a knock on the nose, which was a bleed, and we did an HIA [ head in­jury as­sess­ment] as a pre­cau­tion. He passed that and an­other af­ter the game. Just be­cause you get a knock to the face it doesn’t mean you’re con­cussed.”

Gre­gor Townsend, Scot­land’s coach, was not dis­cour­aged by his team’s per­for­mance, cit­ing his side’s lack of pre­ci­sion as the main dif­fer­ence be­tween the teams, Wales tak­ing their two clear chances, Scot­land de­nied twice by the TMO. But for Scot­land, as for so many, the game had a broader di­men­sion. “I looked up a cou­ple of times,” he said, “and Dod­die [ Weir] was on the big screen. The re­ac­tion he got from the crowd was tremen­dous. We put a huge ef­fort into win­ning that game, that tro­phy. We did all we could.”

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