Having seen off Fiji and Portugal with bonus point victories and convincingly beaten Australia Wales’ final pool match, Wales knew a point would be enough to top the standings and advance to the World Cup quarter-finals as group winners.
A hat-trick of tries from Louis Rees-Zammit and scores from Thomas Francis, Liam Williams George North secured the feat, however, Wales did not have things all their own way.
Georgia’s second-half fightback would be spirited but short-lived as Wales took their foot off the gas midway through the second-half with wingers Demur Karkadze and Davit Niniashvili going over. It would be a warning to Gatland that against stronger opponents his side would need to be better at managing the game.
A more pressing concern for the Kiwi will be the key loss of ever-present Faletau who broke his arm in the second-half and is now ruled out of the tournament.
Whilst Gareth Anscombe’s groin injury in the pre-match warm-up will leave Wales sweating over the fitness of fly-half Dan Biggar ahead of their last-eight clash with either Argentina or Japan in Marseille next Saturday.
“Toby [Faletau] has broken his arm so he’ll be out. It’s tough for him because he pulled his calf and didn’t take a huge part in the camps and pre-season work,” said Gatland.
“That’s why we continued to play him because we felt he gets better game by game. We felt he was back to his best.
“He was excellent against Australia with his footwork and carrying, taking kick-offs and giving us go-forward.
“It’s a big loss for us. We’ll just have to make a decision on his replacement and the balance of the back row going forward, starting next week.
“We are just going to assess Gareth [Anscombe] over the next 72 hours. He has pulled his groin very high up. He’s got a bit of power and stood on his leg which is positive.
“We will probably know in the next 48 hours in terms of what we need to do with him, whether we have time for him to recover or whether we need to make a replacement.
“If you do see Liam Williams on crutches, it’s not that he’s done anything significant, he just got a whack on the knee.
“He probably won’t take part in a huge amount of training in the early part of next week, but hopefully, he’ll be fine.”
Gatland was also full of praise for the performance of Scarlets fly-half Sam Costelow after stepping in late and the progress and impact Rees-Zammit had on the match.
“I thought he [Sam Costelow] was thrown in the deep end and did well, I was pleased with that. There were chances there then when we did squeeze them and shift the ball and I was pleased for him, continued Gatland.
“For him [Rees-Zammit] to get a hat-trick today was pleasing, he has so much growth and elements as a player for us. We have been really pleased with his progress; he has a big future.
“We need to get the ball in his hands more. I want to see him take on players one-on-one. He’s brilliant in terms of putting kicks through and chasing them down and going past people.
“It wasn’t easy today, but we got the job done. We had to cope with a few challenges before kick-off and they’re a tough team to put away there’s no doubt about that, so I’m pleased we got the result we were looking for.”
[Lead image: Wales Rugby Union]
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