Rugby Union: Wales one step from World Cup

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The Independent Online
ALAN DAVIES, the Welsh coach, Alan Davies has called on his record-breakers breaking team to follow their 102-11 thrashing of Portugal with another crushing win over Spain on Saturday.

Wales scored went on a 16 tries rampage in Lisbon on Tuesday night in the first of their two World Cup qualifying matches and only have to beat the Spaniards in Madrid book their passage to reach next year's finals in South Africa.

In breaking through into three figures, Davies's side secured notched a number of records, including an all-time high for Wales as well and as the biggest score ever in a World Cup match.

'It was a little false really, but none the less we are delighted to score such a success with a record total,' the Wales team manager, Robert Norster, said. 'I don't think we played quite as well as we can, but you would not have given us much of a chance of doing that against anyone at the beginning of the season.'

The only disappointment for Wales was an injury to the back-row forward, Hemi Taylor, was hit today by another knee injury scare which is likely to rule him out of the Spanish match. World Cup qualifier against Spain in Madrid on Saturday. The New Zealand-born player, who underwent manipulative surgery on his injured left-knee six weeks ago, suffered no adverse reactions during his Test debut, in the record 102-11 win against Portgual until he dived to score Wales' final 16th try.

But Davies wants to see an improvement on last night 's performance in Madrid and will be looking for a similar score.

'It's difficult to score 100 points so all credit to the team for that,' said Davies.

'I was disappointed with the opposition scores and we lost possession too much. There are certainly things to improve on.

'Spain, so they tell me, are 20 or 30 points better than Portugal, but if we don't lose the ball then we will be determined to do just as well.'

Until last season the Welsh best had been 49 points against France in 1910, but the 55 scored against Japan in October eclipsed that mark. This time however, Iewan Evans' side almost doubled it.

The 16 tries were another record in a match for Wales, comfortably beating the 11 against France in 1909, while the 11 conversions from stand-off Neil Jenkins overtook Jack Bancroft's eight for Wales against France in 1910, and Grant Fox's world best of 10 for the All Blacks against Fiji in 1987.

Wing Nigel Walker joined four other players in scoring four tries in a game in what was generally one of the biggest mismatches in international rugby history.

Wales move on to Madrid today to prepare for their second qualifying match.

Victory in that game will ensure them a ticket in next year's finals in South Africa, although they will still have to meet Romania and Italy in the autumn to sort out their European ranking.

Portugal: Try Murinello; Penalties Vilar Gomes 2. Wales: Tries Walker 4, I Evans 3, Hall 3, Jones 2, Quinnell, Llewellyn, Taylor, penalty try; Conversions N Jenkins 11.

WALES: M Rayer (Cardiff); I Evans (Llanelli, capt), M Hall (Cardiff), N Davies (Llanelli), N Walker (Cardiff); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Jones (Swansea); R Evans (Llanelli), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), A Copsey (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Neath), H Taylor (Cardiff), S Quinnell (Llanelli), E Lewis (Llanelli).

Replacements: R Moon (Llanelli), M Rayer (Cardiff), R McBryde (Swansea), H Williams-Jones (Llanelli), M Perego (Llanelli), P Arnold (Swansea).

PORTUGAL: M Vilar-Gomes; P Murinello, R Pereira, N Mourao, T Morais; J Queimado (capt), P Netto Fernandes; S Ferreira, M Batista, P Domingos, A Pecas, A Andrade, P Arsenio, J Pieres, P Eusebio. Replacements: A Cunha (for Pires, 53), E Macedo (for Ferreira, 73).

Referee: B Leask (Australia).

Ieuan Evans, the Welsh international rugby union skipper captain Ieuan Evans, who won his 42nd cap against Portugal, at Lisbon, is to receive an Honorary Master of Arts Degree at Salford University on 21 July.

Evans a former student at Salford has shone on two British Lions tours and has broken the record of captaining his country with his 19th game in charge coming against Portugal last night in the 102-11 World Cup qualifying win.

'One of the Portuguese players held onto his leg and landed heavily on it. That's what caused the problem,' said Wales manager Rob Norster.

'It was sore after the game and it has stiffened up since then. He will undergo intensive physiotherapy and we'll see how he progresses from there.'

Taylor's major concern now is to recover in time to take his place on next month's tour to Canada and the South Seas.

'It was great to win a cap and to score a try but I could have done without this. The knee was fine until the try,' he said.

It means Wales are likely to revert to the back row they used throughout the Five Nationas Championship with Emyr Lewis reverting back to his blind side role to allow club-mate Mark Perego to return on the open side.

Wales' skipper Ieuan Evans wants 'more of the same' in Madrid following the triumph over Portugal.

And he has the backing of Portuguese counterpart Joel Quiemado who says: 'There is no way the Spanish can halt them.'

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