Rugby Union: Top rank the next target for Wales: Norster ready for heavy World Cup workload

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Spain . . .0

Wales. . .54

IT WAS always going to be a formality for Wales to qualify for next year's World Cup finals with games against Portugal and Spain, but having successfully booked their passage to South Africa there still remains a lot of hard work to do.

Never mind that Saturday's win in Madrid was the fifth in six internationals to date this year. Wales have another seven to go in an unprecedented year of activity, two of which will be vital to their World Cup hopes.

Having won the West European qualifying group with 154 points and 23 tries, Wales must now play Romania and Italy to secure their ranking in Europe. That means a trip to Bucharest on 17 September, where Wales were beaten 24-6 in 1983, and a home game on 12 October against the Italian side who notched 104 points against the Czech Republic last week.

If nothing else the week spent in Portugal and Spain have enabled the Welsh team management to firmly focus the minds of their players on the importance of the forthcoming challenges.

'The games against Romania and Italy will be more severe tests for us,' Robert Norster, the Wales team manager, said. 'Romania are building up nicely with a big set of forwards and winning there won't be easy. Italy are another free-scoring team and it's nice to be playing them at the stronghold of Cardiff Arms Park.'

If Wales are to progress through the first phase of next year's finals and reach the last eight, which they failed to do in 1991, they really need to secure the No 1 ranking in Europe by winning both games. That would secure them a place in the same group as New Zealand, Ireland, and probably Japan.

That is seen as the best option of the three open to the European qualifiers. The second-placed team will face Western Samoa, England and probably Namibia, while Europe's No 3 go into the most demanding group comprising Australia, South Africa and Canada.

The games coming up, and there are four of them next month on the tour to Canada and the South Seas, will all be hard. However, Wales went to Portugal and Spain to do a job and did it well. Seven tries against the highly committed and physical Spaniards was no mean feat and the three by the captain, Ieuan Evans, took his international tally to 19, one short of the Welsh record held jointly by Gareth Edwards and Gerald Davies.

Wales: Tries I Evans 3, Quinnell, Walker, G Jenkins, penalty try; Conversions N Jenkins 5; Penalties N Jenkins 3.

SPAIN: J Azkargorta; P Martin, A Enciso, A Mino, J Torres Morote; F Puertas, J Hernandez-Gil; J Alvarez (S Espina, 40), J Aguiar, J Diez (I De Lazaro, 46, O Solano, 48), A Malo, J Villau, J Etxeberria (F Calle, 67), J Lopez, J Gutierrez (capt).

WALES: A Clement (Swansea); I Evans (Llanelli, capt), M Hall (Cardiff), N Davies (Llanelli), N Walker (Cardiff); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Moon (Llanelli); R Evans (Llanelli), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), P Arnold (Swansea), G Llewellyn (Neath), E Lewis (Llanelli), S Quinnell (Llanelli), M Perego (Llanelli). Replacement: A Copsey (Llanelli) for Lewis 40.

Referee: D Bishop (New Zealand).

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