Welsh skipper Dewi Lake had to fight back the tears as he praised his players in the wake of their 8-7 win over the All Blacks at the World U20 Championships.
But while he claimed the post-match felling was “indescribable”, he quickly let his team know that there is still one more game to be played. Wales will now meet England on Saturday in a battle for fifth place overall.
“We all know how big it is to beat New Zealand, but it won’t mean anything if we lose the next game. It is a massive win, but there is still another game to go,” said the Ospreys hooker.
“A lot of hard work has gone into the result today from the players, coaches and back room staff and I am just so proud of everyone. We set out to win four out of five after losing to France and that’s the goal at the weekend.”
Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler scored a vital kick and chase try in the first half to give Wales the lead and then Cai Evans stepped up to kick the winning penalty two minutes from time. Given he had missed four shots at goal during the game he did well to hold his nerve to achieve something his famous father, Ieuan, never managed in a Welsh shirt and beat New Zealand.
The game was played in atrocious conditions and play was held up for almost an hour when the referee took the teams off after only 28 minutes of play to let the storm pass through. The All Blacks hit back with a converted try 10 minutes from time.
“The break was a set-back, but both teams had to go through it. It was just a case of staying focused and getting back out and playing at the same tempo,” said Lake.
“We haven’t dominated territory or possession in any game we have played as yet, but defensively we put in a lot of big shots and we got 11 turn-overs. Theoretically we shouldn’t have won, but we did and that’s all that matters.”
The final fixture will be against England, who beat Ireland 30-23. When the two teams met in the Six Nations earlier in the year a last-gasp try from Deon Smith earned Wales a dramatic 11-10 victory in Colwyn Bay.
“We need to work on a few areas of our game but we look forward to playing Wales. They have beaten us already this season, so that will focus the minds of the players again,” said England coach Steve Bates.
“After the disappointment of the first loss to Ireland in this competition we’ve showed true resilience and it is a testament to how much these boys want to play for each other.”