Player Ratings: Wales
OPINION: Wales made it two wins from two on Saturday against Portugal in Nice, but it was far from a vintage performance.
The much-changed outfit had to wait until the final play of the game to pick up a crucial bonus point, and the question will now be how many of the players actually worked their way into Warren Gatland’s ideal XV with Australia looming next.
Here’s how the Wales’ players rated:
15 – Leigh Halfpenny – 7
Secure under the high ball and showed great spatial awareness whenever the game turned into a kicking contest. One important steal in his own 22 showed his all-round value. Replaced by Josh Adams with 11 minutes to go.
14 – Louis Rees-Zammit – 8
An outstanding bit of skill set up his own try. A clean catch and a quick grubber ahead meant he created the space behind the Portugal defensive line. He then put the afterburners on and gathered on the bounce to score. Not much else to do but if he does that once a game he’ll retire a hero. Not a bad way to notch your first World Cup try.
13 – Mason Grady – 6
Some good carries early on. Tried a long pass but failed to find it in the first half. Even 50 metres was made with ball in hand but lacked that precision in midfield when it mattered.
12 – Johnny Williams – 6
Second only to Rees-Zammit in terms of metres made. He was involved in a few busting runs but, like his midfield partner, struggled for rhythm. A cynical yellow card most likely saved a try. Should have had one of his own but spilled over the line when a score would have been the safest bet.
11 – Rio Dyer – 7
Industrious when asked to get involved. Cut infield but lacked the space needed to really shine. Still, a decent whack for the youngster.
10 – Gareth Anscombe – 5
Wales needed control and they never got it from the man tasked with that job. Didn’t do enough to nudge Dan Biggar off his perch. Sam Costelow replaced him on 64 minutes.
9 – Tomos Williams – 7
Was excellent with his box kicks and helped Wales maintain territory advantage. Some neat snipes round the blindside showed his attacking intent. Subbed for Gareth Davies late on.
1 – Nicky Smith – 6
Involved in the loose and solid enough in the scrum. A helter-skelter game meant he was largely asked to clean out rucks. Replaced by Corey Domachowski on 50 minutes.
2 – Dewi Lake – 7
After watching his team struggle for cohesion, he picked the ball up from a penalty, tapped and then bashed over the line to score himself. Made 11 tackles and 23 metres with ball in hand. Missed two line-outs in the space of a few minutes though which will be a concern moving forward. Replaced by Ryan Elias on 53 minutes.
3 – Dillon Lewis – 6
Secure enough at set-piece. Performed his job as needed. Part of a quadruple change on 50 minutes when he made way for Tomas Francis.
4 – Christ Tshiunza – 8
One of Wales’ best players. Didn’t miss a tackle from 11 attempts and was a menace with ball in hand around the fringe. Showed a wonderful eye for a gap by cutting some delicious runs against the grain. A very busy afternoon. Made a strong case to start in Gatland’s best XV.
5 – Dafydd Jenkins – 6
Coughed up the pill in the tackle and lacked a bit of the needed heft in the second row. Still, was a safe pair of hands in the line-out, winning five balls from a set-piece that didn’t always function as it should. Replaced by Adam Beard on 50 minutes.
6 – Dan Lydiate – 5
Largely anonymous. Failed to exert himself on the match in either the tight or loose exchanges. Hooked for Taine Basham on 53 minutes.
7 – Jac Morgan – 9
Wasn’t supposed to play but stepped straight into the starting line-up after Tommy Reffell picked up a knock in the warm-up. Was brilliant. With some shuddering hits and neat interplay in the backline, it was his pass to Rees-Zammit before the speedy wing scored. Stole the ball when he spotted isolated runners and was busy throughout. Rightly recognised as the player of the match.
8 – Taulupe Faletau – 8
Charged over the bonus point try at the death. Made some brilliant tackles, especially a recovery hit in the first half when Portugal looked destined for the try line. A strong performance from the veteran who remains a crucial cog in this Welsh machine.
16 – Ryan Elias – 6
Like the man he replaced, he failed to find dominance at line-out with some inaccurate throws. Busy otherwise and a force around the fringe.
17 – Corey Domachowski – 7
Solid at scrum time. Helped with a ball against the head and dominated his opposite number. Was crucial in the scrum that helped set up the bonus point try.
18 – Tomas Francis – 7
Added heft when it mattered late on. Portugal couldn’t cope with Wales’ version of the Bomb Squad.
19 – Adam Beard – 7
Improved the struggling set-piece. Put his large body around the park.
20 – Taine Basham – 6
Got stuck in when things opened up at the end. Also made all six of his tackles.
21 – Gareth Davies – 7
Injected life into the match. Was unfortunate not to get a try after running a wonderful support run for Rees-Zammit who was helped by an obstruction earlier in the move. A great cameo from the scrummage with peroxided hair.
22 – Sam Costelow – 6
Definitely brought a shape to the Welsh line that was missing before his introduction. Hardly a superstar show but did enough to see the game out.
23 – Josh Adams – 6
Couldn’t make much of an impact with only 11 minutes to play. One tackle and one run sums up his short contribution.