El­lis blow spoils big day for Wales

The Rugby Paper - - Front Page -

WAR­REN Gat­land told Wales they can im­prove even fur­ther for the Six Na­tions af­ter watch­ing his team seal a first Au­tumn clean sweep and ex­tend their win­ning run to nine matches.

But flanker El­lis Jenk­ins – man of the match in the 20-11 vic­tory over South Africa – looks set to miss the 2019 tour­na­ment and faces a race to be fit for next year’s World Cup af­ter suf­fer­ing a sus­pected se­ri­ous knee in­jury against the Spring­boks at Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium.

Gat­land ad­mit­ted Jenk­ins’ blow left him feel­ing down­beat.

“El­lis has got a scan booked in for Mon­day. It looks like it might be an ACL in­jury which ob­vi­ously isn’t good,” said the Wales head coach.

“Hope­fully it won’t be too bad and we can get him back on the field as soon as pos­si­ble. It was a sim­ply out­stand­ing per­for­mance from him.

“You re­ally have to feel for him. It is tough to see a player who has worked that hard to get him­self into the 23, and step up so well, fin­ish like that.

“He came off the bench against Aus­tralia and we spoke about him not im­pos­ing him­self enough against Tonga. I had a one-on-one with him be­fore this game, but he cer­tainly did ev­ery­thing we ex­pected from him.

“He was de­servedly man of the match.”

With Ire­land and New Zea­land still above Wales in World Rugby’s rank­ings, the last thing Gat­land wants is for his team to stand still.

“South Africa was the tough­est game we played this au­tumn. There are still as­pects we need to take away and work on, such as our scrum­mag­ing and game man­age­ment,” added Gat­land.

“But we showed char­ac­ter through­out and this is a spe­cial group of play­ers. The Welsh pub­lic should be very proud of them.

“We are build­ing nicely ahead of the World Cup.”

Wales cap­tain Alun Wyn Jones added: “The ef­fort we are putting into games is be­com­ing a habit.

“There are still patches we want to work on, but the char­ac­ter we have shown in a cou­ple of these games, even Tonga, is the most pleas­ing thing.

“There is a bit of depth de­vel­op­ing. There are still a few guys who are in­jured, but there are a lot of play­ers putting up their hands.”

Spring­bok head coach Rassie Eras­mus said: “The fi­nal score­line was a fair re­flec­tion of the game. Wales are ranked three in the world and they showed why in this game.

“We had a cou­ple of pre­match blows with in­juries, but we can’t use them as ex­cuses.

“Wales were bet­ter than us tech­ni­cally and tac­ti­cally and they de­served to win.”

South Africa cap­tain Siya Kolisi said: “Wales were re­ally smart and they made us play a lot in our own half.

“Ev­ery time we got into their half, we gave away a penalty.

“I am happy with the way South African rugby is de­vel­op­ing, but there is still a lot to do. Even so there are a lot of pos­i­tives we can take out of this year.”

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