After Wales ended the World Rugby U20 Championship pool stage on a high with a thrilling 44-28 win over Fiji on Wednesday, try scoring captain Dewi Lake paid tribute to his team’s performance.
Bouncing back from a 19-point mauling at the hands of reigning champions France at the weekend, the Welsh team secured second place in Pool A and, with two games to play, now face New Zealand in the play-offs to determine who will finish fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.
Reflecting on Wednesday’s win, the Ospreys hooker gave credit to his pack for laying down the foundation for what proved to be an impressive win.
“The mindset was that it was going to be a tough first half and that we were going to have to keep the game structured” said Lake.
“We knew that they are dangerous in the loose, they almost play like sevens with the offloads. Any time you play a team like Fiji, when they start to get in the flow it’s very hard to stop them
“We looked to drive everything from lineouts, and to dominate in the scrums, because we knew that playing a loose game was going to suit them. I think a couple of times we slipped into that and tried to kick loosely and to get offloads away but the mindset really was to front up in the forwards, especially in that first half.
“When you look at their last two games they’ve kept very close to teams in the first half. They were 10-8 down at half-time to France, 10-0 down at half-time to Argentina, so we knew the first half was going to be a real grind. The boys got the result which is what we wanted.”
After a mixed Six Nations campaign, Lake said he was impressed with the approach of his team, who took full advantage of a Fiji yellow card at the end of the first half to put daylight between the teams:
“I think a couple of times this year we’ve not taken our opportunities when they’ve arisen but here the boys really proved they’ve got it in them to score a lot of tries and, when the yellow card happened we really pushed for points.
“We’ve spoken about being disappointed by that loss to France and so we were going to push on and try to win four from five. That win pushes us into the second tier, which is what we were looking for to build on for the rest of the tournament.
“It was vital that we proved we are a good outfit, a good setpiece team, so credit to the boys for their efforts.”
Wales now face the Baby Blacks in Rosario on Monday.