The Cardiffian’s Caleb Spencer analyses a rejuvenated Wales following a positive Six Nations weekend
The reason many Welsh fans felt so hurt by the loss was not just because of the moral imperative to beat “the old enemy,” it was because England were average and the win was there for the taking.
But the Rhys Webb-Dan Biggar, and Connor Murray-Johnny Sexton partnerships at the weekend showed the importance of a solid and settled 9-10 relationship in the Six Nations. And for this relationship to flourish, the forwards must play their part, and in Paris on Saturday night, the Welsh pack put on their most complete performance in years. It was a joy to watch.
Complemented by Jamie Roberts and George North, the Welsh eight were given good momentum at the breakdown, which in turn led to cleaner ball for Webb and Biggar. Although not a resounding defeat of a suspect French squad, fans will be pleased with the level of effort put in by the men in red.
The mark of a great team, that can compete with the southern hemisphere sides – as France will know – is a mobile and skilled packed. So, the site of Dan Lydiate’s audacious offload to send Biggar through on 60 minutes and the continued brilliance of Jake Ball and Alun Wyn Jone in the second row, will give Gatland belief
Combined Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies’ commanding display in midfield, and Leigh Halfpenny’s unerring accuracy from places kicks, Wales have a right to go into the clash against Ireland with renewed optimism. That defeat to England seems an age away.
The Welsh team know Ireland will be the toughest test yet, and the almost unbearable question for Welsh fans will be: can we keep this up? This will be the contest of the championship so far, and in the cauldron of the Millennium Stadium, anything can happen.