Wales rout Uruguay but suffer more injuries

1:21 pm on 21 September 2015

Wales sparkled in patches and ran in eight tries - including three to centre Cory Allen - to overpower Uruguay 54-9 in their opening Rugby World Cup match, but the gloss was taken off the victory by yet more injury concerns.

Hat-trick hero Allen looks likely to be ruled out of the tournament and five other players were also left carrying injuries.

Cory Allen of Wales runs the ball. He scored a hat-trick against Uruguay.

Cory Allen of Wales runs the ball. He scored a hat-trick against Uruguay. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Placed alongside two-time World Cup winners Australia and hosts England in the group of death, the injuries are a hammerblow for Wales' New Zealand coach Warren Gatland, who is already without star full-back Leigh Halfpenny and first-choice backs Rhys Webb and Jonathan Davies.

After that dispiriting build-up to the tournament, the Welsh moved level with England at the top of the group on five points, ahead of the teams' seismic clash at Twickenham pon Sunday.

Allen scored three first-half tries as Wales took a 28-9 lead at the break. But the centre limped off 15 minutes into the second period.

Medics had said the injury looked like a significant tear in his hamstring and it was likely he would definitely need to be replaced.

Fullback Liam Williams, the natural replacement for Halfpenny, also went off injured, but perhaps more worrying for Gatland were his front-row options.

Tighthead prop Samson Lee, making his comeback from a ruptured achilles tendon sustained in March, was replaced at half-time and loosehead Paul James after just 32 minutes, both complaining of tightness in the calves.

James' replacement Aaron Jarvis, also the back-up hooker in a 31-man squad boasting only two specialists in the No.2 shirt, played the last 20 minutes in major pain.

"Liam Williams got a knock on the thigh, Samson Lee and Paul James have got tight calves, and Dan Lydiate had a head assessment and has passed that so he's able to take a full part in training next week," Gatland said.

"Aaron Jarvis actually popped a rib cartilage as well, nothing that's too serious but he was in quite significant pain. He really dug in deep for the last 20 minutes on the field, maybe we'd have to go down to 14 men but he put his body on the line which is impressive for and from him."

Gatland admitted that there might be a hard call to make after the usual 24-hour assessment period.

"We may have to make a tough decision on the props," he acknowledged. "We're carrying five props and at the moment we've only got three who can take the field, and we have to have four, so we may have to make a difficult call and replace one of the props."

The coach dismissed any link between the injuries and Wales' gruelling training regime.

"Sometimes you just get a little bit of bad luck. Corey Allen's pulled a hamstring, the others look like they could be a week, or three or four days, with knocks, that's just what happens at this level.

"I don't think you can blame the preparation, look at Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb getting injured, they were just unlucky, it happens in this sport.

"We felt very happy with the way we prepared and trained, but unfortunately we've picked up a few knocks but that's rugby, that's professional sport, there's no doubt we'll pick a few more."

"The medical and conditioning staff have done a brilliant job."

Good first game, apart from the injuries

Wales, fielding several second-string players, made a sluggish start, conceding a succession of turnovers, and Uruguay first-five Felipe Berchesi kicked two penalties to put his largely amateur side 6-0 ahead.

But the hosts responded swiftly, much to the delight of a raucous and excitable crowd at the Millennium Stadium.

Prop Samson Lee grounded the ball over the line following a ferocious driving maul and Allen ran on to a neat chip kick from Rhys Priestland to score the second try.

Man-of-the-match Allen scampered over again and completed his hat-trick after a flowing Welsh move down the left.

coach Warren Gatland made a number of replacements with the tougher group matches against England and Australia in mind, but his team continued to cut through the Uruguayan defence almost at will.

Winger Hallam Amos surged over the line before halfback Gareth Davies grabbed the sixth try with a sniping run as Uruguay, ranked 19th in the world and playing in their third World Cup, worked tirelessly to keep the scoreline respectable.

Flanker Justin Tipuric touched down after another powerful Wales maul and Davies crashed over for his second try in the final minute to complete a satisfactory start for Gatland.

Priestland slotted over seven of the eight conversions in the absence of regular kicker Halfpenny.

- AFP