Dafydd Jenkins sees Wales progress but admits two defeats ‘hurts a lot’

By Sports Desk February 11, 2024

Wales’ young team may have shown genuine promise for the future two rounds into the Guinness Six Nations but captain Dafydd Jenkins insists there is no sugar coating the results.

England ran out 16-14 winners at Twickenham on Saturday despite trailing 14-5 at half-time after a penalty try and Alex Mann’s touch down had placed Warren Gatland’s team in the driving seat.

The defeat came a week after Wales amassed 26 unanswered points having fallen 27-0 behind Scotland, which left Cardiff wondering how had they allowed one of the Championship’s great collapses.

A clash with champions Ireland in Dublin on February 24 is their next assignment and, while Jenkins is impressed by his side’s fighting spirit, he knows that ultimately they have come up short.

“It’s extremely disappointing, but I’m proud of the boys for sticking in it every time. But it’s international rugby and it’s all about winning. Two losses hurts a lot,” Jenkins said.

“It’s a special game, Wales against England. As you grow up you always want to be a part of it and get the win. Unfortunately we didn’t do that.”

Wales’ great frustration is that, having put themselves in a position to claim their first victory at Twickenham since 2015, they allowed the hosts to take control of the second-half through their kicking game.

Gatland believes a challenge lies in instilling into his overhauled side the belief they can get over the line even if the same players are rarely successful with their regions in the United Rugby Championship and Europe.

“Our focus is getting better from game to game and I think we’ve done that,” Gatland said.

“The boys are desperate to get a win and probably the challenge for us is just knowing how important winning is.

“A number of players are coming from regional teams that haven’t had a lot of success.

“They’ve probably got used to not having that ‘W’ next to their name after performances. So it’s important we start doing that and be positive about doing that.

“One of the great things about playing for Wales is, having spoken to a number of players, when they come into this environment, they come in with confidence believing they’re good enough to win. We’ve just got to keep building on that.”

England number eight Ben Earl was the official man of the match but that accolade could easily have gone to Wales openside Tommy Reffell, whose expertise on the ground is now being matched by growing influence in attack.

“We know how good Tommy is defensively but we want him to be comfortable getting the ball in his hands a little bit more,” Gatland said.

“He has come on as more of an option as a running threat. We saw that last weekend and again against England.

“I’m absolutely delighted for him because he’s starting to get a nice balance to his game and that can take him to the next level.

“He was outstanding against England and he just keeps going for 80 minutes.”

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