CARDIFF – Wales coach Warren Gatland basked in the glow of getting the better of England’s Eddie Jones for the first time in the Six Nations, lauding his “pretty special group” of players after their 21-13 win in Cardiff on Saturday.
The 55-year-old New Zealander’s side remain on course for the Grand Slam – which would be the third during his tenure – after dashing England’s hopes with a national record 12th successive win, and are the only team left in the competition capable of winning all five of their matches.
“It is nice and pretty special,” Gatland told the BBC.
“We created lots of problems for ourselves in the first-half but we were much better in the second.
“All that pain and hard work last week (in training) paid dividends, in the second half tactically we were really good.
“It’s a pretty special group of boys at the moment, in fact, a brilliant group at the moment.”
Second-half tries by Cory Hill and Josh Adams saw the hosts storm back from a 10-3 half-time deficit and get the better of Jones for the first time in four Six Nations clashes.
Gatland will step down after this year’s World Cup in Japan and there was a knowing smile on his face when asked if his team could provide a fairytale finish to his reign.
“Not a lot of pundits seem to think we are (contenders) so we will just keep our heads down and below the radar,” he said.
🏴 21-13 🏴— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 23, 2019
Wales show just how much fight is in this team as they roar back to a magnificent triumph against a strong England side. #HWFN
Gornest a hanner! Ysbryd ac angerdd y bois a’r cefnogwyr yn selio’r fuddugoliaeth. Ymlaen i Gaeredin! #ForTheJersey pic.twitter.com/XOcuKi8ZYV
Jones was philosophical in the immediate aftermath of the defeat.
“It was one of those nip and tuck games decided by small margins,” the 59-year-old Australian told the BBC.
“We let ourselves down in a couple of areas.”
However, Jones, who guided England to the Grand Slam in his first season in charge in 2016 and the title the following year, did not think England lost their heads.
“It was a tough game and I do not know if we lost our heads, they put us under a lot of pressure,” he said.
“A few of our players were off today and that happens. That is the great thing about rugby never know what is going to happen.”
Wales full-back Liam Williams, whose outstanding display was rewarded with the man of the match award said the team had always had belief in itself.
“We’ve always known that we are a great team, we didn’t play well in the first two games,” he told the BBC.
“But we’ve worked hard this week and we dug deep.”
Wales play Scotland next before a potential title-decider at home to Ireland – who Gatland once coached and is still riled by the manner of his dismissal.AFP