Wales suffer more injury woes in eight-try rout of Uruguay
Liam Williams, Paul James and Dan Lydiate all suffer knocks ahead of England game
Gareth Davies of Wales breaks for the try line during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Uruguay at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Wales achieved a bonus point victory over a Uruguay side made up largely of amateurs, but it was laboured and costly. The fullback Liam Williams, making his first appearance since last season, limped off after 35 minutes with a dead leg and the centre Cory Allen, scorer of three tries in the first period, was helped off after the interval with a hamstring strain.
In addition the forwards Paul James and Dan Lydiate also limped off, with Warren Gatland’s side set to play England at Twickenham next Saturday. The Wales head coach is used to his second string fumbling their way through a November international, but seldom has the side under him looked so uncomfortable in possession.
Uruguay took a six-point lead in the opening eight minutes with two penalties from Felipe Berchesi, who in between was short from a kick in his own half. Although Uruguay had only scraps of possession and conceded a rash of penalties, they dealt in the main with Wales’ straight-line running watched by the largest crowd any of them had appeared in front of, and were neither overawed nor overpowered.
Wales, fielding no more than five players who will occupy the same positions against England, played in an unfamiliar style, moving the ball rather than hoisting it in the air and it did not suit them. Their lateral movement and predictable crash-ball moves were read by Uruguay as if they had been printed in large, bold letters.
Wales scored eight tries, four from driving lineouts, which was just as well because their passing and handling behind were largely lamentable. Allen was named the man of the match for his hat-trick, but it was the centre’s poor pass that led to Liam Williams being injured as he fumbled for the ball at his feet and others did not threaten to find their target.
Wales sought solace in contact rather than space and Uruguay, adopting a quick line speed, slipped off few tackles. Led by their halfbacks, their combativeness was personified by the flanker Juan Gaminara who was in the faces of opponents from the start and never let up.
Wales had cleared their bench with 18 minutes to go, by which time Uruguay had made only two changes and Los Teros were given a standing ovation by the home supporters at the end. The men in red had made a swift exit.
Wales led 28-9 at the break, Allen’s three tries following the opener by the prop Samson Lee, another player making his first appearance since last season. Berchesi’s three penalties resulted from Wales’ indiscipline in the tackle and on the floor, but whatever was said at half-time had no immediate impact.