Gatland thinking big after North blows Namibia away

Wales 81 Namibia 7
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The Independent Online

Wales are preparing to unleash the biggest centre pairing at the World Cup after George North single-handedly laid waste to Namibia.

Comparisons with Jonah Lomu were already around before the 6ft 4ins and 17st teenager arrived in New Zealand, but not since the great All Black burst on to the scene in 1995 has a teenager had such an impact at the World Cup as this.

North, 19, took his tally of Test tries to eight in 11 appearances with two more here at New Plymouth, despite not joining in the scoring frenzy until the second half. He also had a hand in plenty more on a night when this team re-wrote the Welsh history books.

Now Warren Gatland is considering playing North alongside Jamie Roberts, of similar proportions, to form a super-sized midfield partnership for their quarter-final, likely to be against Ireland.

Gatland said: "George has only just turned 19 and is still learning but he has a massive future. We saw his class with the impact he made in this game. He's 110kg and has great footwork so potentially he is going to score a lot of tries. We were very pleased with his performance. In training we've run him through alongside Jamie in midfield. I don't think there would be too many players around who would want to face that pair."

With Roberts rested, 20-year-old Scott Williams took his chance, scoring a hat-trick on his full Test debut.

The Scarlets rookie, once a trainee plumber, got Wales on track with his first inside eight minutes. He wrapped up the bonus point with a second after the break before completing his treble in a late flurry as Wales ran in seven tries in the final 20 minutes.

Gethin Jenkins, Jonathan Davies, Lloyd Williams, Lee Byrne and Alun Wyn Jones also scored while Stephen Jones kicked 15 points to celebrate becoming Wales' record cap-holder with his 101st appearance.

"We won the game and got the bonus point that we really wanted," said captain Sam Warburton. "We also got a good scoreline and 12 tries that could prove important if things came down to points difference.

"We were a bit off-colour before halftime. Perhaps that was a result of simply trying too hard and playing rugby in the wrong areas of the pitch. But the game broke open in the second half and that suited us."

Gatland added: "The disappointing thing of the night was the scrums were pretty messy, there were a lot of penalties, but we'll have a look at the tape and sit down over the next couple of days and look at the side for Fiji."

Namibia coach Johan Diergaardt highlighted the gulf between the part-timers and professionals. He said: "We will arrive home at 8.30am Wednesday morning and go straight back to work that day. We have dentists and bankers who only get a certain amount of holidays so we have to go home now."

Wales: L Byrne; L Halfpenny, J Davies, Scott Williams, A Brew (G North, 54); S Jones (R Priestland, 62), T Knoyle (L Williams, 58); G Jenkins (R Bevington, 60), L Burns (K Owens, 60), C Mitchell, B Davies, AW Jones, R Jones, T Faletau (L Charteris, 57), S Warburton (capt, A Powell, 48).

Tries S Williams (3), G North (2), A Brew, T Faletau, G Jenkins, J Davies, L Williams, L Byrne, AW Jones. Cons S Jones (6), R Priestland (3). Pen S Jones.

Namibia: C Botha; D Van Wyk, P Van Zyl, D De La Harpe (D Philander, 32), D Dames (TC Losper, 56); T Kotze (R De La Harpe, 65), E Jantjies; J Redelinghuys (R Larson, 20), H Horn (B O'Callaghn, 65), J Du Toit, H Koll (W Kazombiaze, 65), T Du Plessis (R Kitshoff, 70), J Nieuwenhuis, J Burger (capt). Try H Koll. Con T Kotze.

Sin Bin: R Larson.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

Attendance: 14,710