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Wales turn focus on wooden spoon showdown

REACTION: Wales coach Warren Gatland insisted that there would be no hiding in the run-up to the Six Nations wooden spoon decider against Italy next week.

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Flyhalf Thomas Ramos kicked 20 points and scrumhalf Nolann Le Garrec was outstanding as France outscored Wales by five tries to three (45-24), moving into third spot in the tournament table on points difference from Scotland.

A raft of second-half replacements guaranteed the victory in Cardiff as French strength in depth shone through against an inexperienced Wales team in full development.

The result leaves France to play England in Lyon next weekend with a shot at runners-up position behind leaders Ireland, while Wales find themselves in a wooden spoon shoot-out with Italy in Cardiff.

“It’s massive for us,” Gatland said.

“We’ve got to be excited by it, embrace it, we can’t shy away from it. You can’t go into your shell.”

Gatland, in his second reign as Wales coach, added: “There’s going to be a lot of pressure and expectation, we’ve just got to embrace that and give a performance at home.”

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Italy’s 31-29 victory over Scotland at the weekend ensures a humdinger of a finish for Wales, winless from their four matches in the tournament.

“I thought it was a good performance from Italy and good for the tournament [creating] a lot of jeopardy, it creates a lot of excitement,” Gatland said.

“Physically they’re in pretty good shape.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us and massive for them because they want to be in the best possible position in the Six Nations.

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“And we don’t want to finish bottom,” something that last happened to the Welsh back in 2003.

Gatland insisted that the visit of the Azzurri was “a must-win game, it’s about stepping up and learn from the things we’ve been doing”.

“We’ve got a young group of players who some of them aren’t quite ready at this level and got to learn very quickly what Test match rugby is about.”

The New Zealander pinpointed a moment in the match against France when Wales led 24-23, but conceded a converted try that saw the visitors pull away.

“At six points down, it’s one of those games you stay in the game, play territory, put some pressure on them.

“Unfortunately I think we overplayed it,” he said.

“We hurt ourselves and did not play well enough in that last period.”

 

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