Wales boss Wayne Pivac says thrashing England 40-24 in their Six Nations encounter on Saturday to win the Triple Crown was a remarkable achievement for his side.
Wales had previously defeated Ireland and Scotland before making light work of England at the Millennium Stadium this past Saturday to clinch the Triple Crown and stay in the race for a Six Nations Grand Slam.
There were a couple of controversial refereeing decisions, but other than sharing his believe that England’s Maro Itoje should’ve gotten a yellow card for his continued and cynical indiscretions, Pivac refused to comment on the referee and the match officials’ performance.
‘Probably before half-time when he conceded his the fourth penalty, Itoje should’ve been off,’ Pivac said. ‘At the end of the day, the referee probably didn’t think they were all in the same area perhaps.
‘That is a lot of penalties for one player. He’s pushing the boundaries clearly but he’s a world-class player. Sometimes world-class players get away with a little bit more than others.’
A couple of Wales’ tries were scored after they caught the English defence napping and it left the England players and supporters fuming that the referee allowed the tries to stand. But Pivac is adamant that is was fair play since the referee said time on and then suggested that England should ask themselves why they didn’t react quicker.
‘From a Welsh point of view, the cross-field kick was pinpoint. It was good skill. Josh Adams did his job by hanging out there to give us the option and I thought it was well taken once the referee said time on,’ he explained.
‘If it was against us, we’d be having a little bit of a look at ourselves and why we didn’t react quicker.’
When addressing his team’s Triple Crown win, Pivac was particularly pleased about the team’s turnaround in fortunes after their struggles last season.
‘It feels great. The players are feeling very good about the performance they put in. We talked about it being a special day for a lot of reasons – George [North]’s 100th Test match, some silverware on the line and the opportunity to go deeper into the competition and push on.
‘It was a special day, the weather was good and we went out there and got a bonus point win. You have to be proud of the performance. The players were joking about doing a lap of honour for the fans at the end. I’m sure everybody in their homes will be celebrating that one.’
Callum Sheedy came on a replacement for Dan Biggar at flyhalf and knocked over three high pressure penalty kicks to keep Wales in the ascendancy before they were able to pull away on the scoreboard and his performance appear to have made a lasting impression on Pivac, who was full of praise for the 25-year-old.
‘Dan took a couple of knocks and he clearly was not 100. When he took his last knock, which was on the forearm – he took one on the hip as well – so he wasn’t moving too freely. It was time to bring him off and Callum did a fantastic job as his replacement. After missing a couple of kicks up in Edinburgh, to come on in that situation, a very tight game, he had three difficult kicks and hit all three of them well.
‘I’m just pleased for him. His general play was solid. Everybody got a lot of confidence, including the player, out of that performance. It was really a case of waiting to see how things progressed in this particular game.
‘He’s doing everything that we’re asking of him and he’s enjoying being in the environment. He did say he’d play 15, wing or whatever we wanted. He’s just a young guy that is really enjoying the environment, he’s expressing himself and he’s doing very well. We want to have competition across a lot of positions and we want that selection headache every week.’
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