Bowring draws comfort from Welsh fightback

New South Wales 27 Wales 20
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The Independent Online
Kevin Bowring, the Wales coach, said his team were finally coming to grips with the pace and intensity of the game in Australia after a much grittier showing against New South Wales than in the humiliation against ACT.

With three days to go before the first Test against Australia, Bowring was naturally accentuating the positive as much as he could. "We are starting to play for the whole game," he said. "We were pressing them right up to the final whistle. We competed to the end and dug deep in defence. There is more self-belief and we are building in confidence."

Fears that Sunday's 69-30 hammering at the hands of ACT would see Wales crumble again were dismissed with a second-half performance that will have done morale a power of good. "We fought back with pride and character, though we again got over eager on a couple of occasions and we need a bit more control," Bowring said.

"We have got to cut down on unforced errors because when you lose possession here, they punish you severely. But there was an improvement in our quality of play. We are running in tries and creating other chances."

The latest injury worries for Wales centre on flankers Emyr Lewis (neck) and Gwyn Jones (groin).

But Jones, playing his first game of the tour after recovering from hamstring trouble, dismissed any suggestion he would be ruled out of the international, where his speed to the breakdown will be crucial. "I was feeling a bit stiff, so I came off as a precaution," he said.

Wales left it too late to give NSW a go, a 14-point deficit after 53 minutes leaving them with too much to do. But after a solitary Arwel Thomas penalty in the first half, they improved considerably on the resumption. They scored two excellent tries - from centre Nigel Davies, who had a marvellous match and the ever-alert winger Ieuan Evans - to match NSW try for try.

However, they know they cannot afford to be as generous against the Wallabies on Saturday, NSW stand-off Tim Wallace kicking his side to victory with five penalty goals.

New South Wales: Tries Bond, Ekert; Conversion Wallace; Penalties Wallace (5). Wales: Tries Davies, Evans; Conversions A Thomas (2). Penalties A Thomas (2).

New South Wales: T Kelaher; G Bond, J Madz, R Tombs, M Miller; P Wallace, A Ekert; A Heath, M Bell, A Blades, W Waugh, J Welborn, W Ofahengaue, T Gavin (capt), S Talbot.

WALES: C Cormack (Pontypridd); I Evans (Llanelli), G Thomas (Pontypridd), N Davies (Llanelli), D James (Bridgend); A Thomas (Swansea), A Moore (Richmond); A Lewis (Cardiff), B Williams (Neath), L Mustoe (Cardiff), M Voyle (Newport), G Llewellyn (Harlequins, capt), E Lewis (Cardiff), S Williams (Neath), G Jones (Llanelli). Replacements: K Jones (Ebbw Vale) for G Jones 62; A Gibbs (Newbridge) for E Lewis 70; C Loader (Swansea) for A Lewis 76.