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For a man who had just delivered the most influential performance of his international career, Rhys Patchell kept a typically cool head as he reflected upon Wales’ pulsating win over Australia. “A job well done tonight in terms of getting the result but it doesn’t count for anything if we don’t back it up in nine days’ time,” he said.
Head coach Warren Gatland went marginally further, admitting that his men deserved to “pat each other on the back” following a gritty, lung-busting performance in Tokyo, one underpinned by granite-like resolve and resilience.
But despite the scale and nature of the win, the message was clear: nothing has changed. Although Sunday’s result has brought into focus the likely match-ups for the tournament’s quarter-finals, Wales are refusing to get ahead of themselves. Their focus is on Fiji next Wednesday, followed by a final Pool D clash with Uruguay. It’s business as usual for the Welsh.
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Nonetheless, it’s hard not to shake the sense of what this side could now achieve. It’s hard not to think that they could indeed go all the way. For although Sunday’s encounter may only have been a group match, ingrained in the Welsh performance was one key dynamic which will sustain them in the coming weeks, regardless of who they face: unshakeable, unbreakable, unwavering self-belief.
For all the magic and menace of that opening half, in which an energised Welsh team stormed out of the blocks to swiftly pull ahead of their rivals, it was the second 40 which reaffirmed the World Cup credentials of Gatland’s men.
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