Tue, Feb 10, 2009 - Page 20 News List

RBS NATIONS: Wales captain cools great expectations

AFP , EDINBURGH

Stand-in Wales captain Martyn Williams has urged expectant supporters not to get carried away following the team’s successful start to their Six Nations championship defense.

Williams took the reins at short notice after back-row colleague Ryan Jones failed to shake off the effects of a leg injury.

He led from the front with one of the tries in the 26-13 triumph over a disappointing Scotland outfit at Murrayfield.

Despite his side’s dominance in every department, Williams said there had been negative aspects.

“The first hour was excellent, but then we took our foot off the gas and you can’t afford to do that at this level,” he said. “We got away with it on this occasion, but it might not be the case against England next weekend.”

“Of course, it was the result we were looking for because this was a potential banana skin for us — but to be honest the mood in the changing room was a bit flat,” he said. “We started the way we wanted — but we certainly did not finish the way we wanted.

“Our discipline let us down and we let them back into the game.” Scotland coach Frank Hadden said that years of toil had been spoiled by the performance.

But he refused to count his battle-scarred troops out of the reckoning for the title.

“It is early days. However, we’ll get better — we need to make progress quick because we only have a six-day turnaround before facing France in Paris,” he said. “I’m confident we can do that.”

Hadden added: “Not since we were in South Africa in 2006 have we been so static and passive, but we were playing against the strongest team in the northern hemisphere. I am bitterly disappointed that we allowed them to show that so easily. We were outmuscled at the scrum where we never got to grips.”

“The killer blow came when we lost a try immediately after half time. After that we were always chasing the game,” he said.

Hadden heaped praise on try-scoring sub Max Evans, but sidestepped negative comments over his backline selection policy, sparked by his decision to leave speed merchant Thom Evans out of the squad altogether.

“It was not a day to assess back play because we got so little quick ball and as a result, their defense snuffed us out,” he said.

To add to Hadden’s worries, he faces a fresh batch of injury concerns in the buildup to Paris.

New cap Geoff Cross and winger Simon Webster are set to miss the trip after suffering head and face knocks.

In addition, frontliners Euan Murray and Nathan Hines — who missed the defeat, are very unlikely to be back in time.

“Cross and Webster were putting themselves about in a way the others should have followed,” Hadden said.

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