Pivac sets Wales sights on bigger prize after Triple Crown triumph

Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Wales coach Wayne Pivac promised no let-up from his side after a decisive 40-24 win over England in Cardiff on Saturday secured the Triple Crown.

Victory in a behind closed doors match at the Principality Stadium saw Wales compile their highest score against arch-rivals England.

It also kept them on course for the Grand Slam ahead of matches away to Italy and France, with the defeat of reigning Six Nations champions England following Wales' wins over Ireland and Scotland.

Wales scored four tries though Josh Adams, Liam Williams, Kieran Hardy and Cory Hill in a bonus-point win.

England may have had reason to feel aggrieved with referee Pascal Gauzere for awarding the opening two tries.

But any complaints England might have had about the officiating were tempered by the knowledge that even though they conceded 14 penalties, Gauzere did not sin-bin any of their players including repeat offender Maro Itoje.

And having drawn level at 24-24 heading into the final quarter, it was England's indiscipline that allowed Wales replacement fly-half Callum Sheedy to kick three decisive penalties late on.

"We talked about it being a special day for a lot of reasons -- George North's 100th Test match (for Wales), some silverware on the line and the opportunity to go deeper into the competition and push on," said Pivac.

- 'Feet on the ground' -

Wales will be huge favourites to beat Italy, thrashed 48-10 by Ireland earlier on Saturday in a 30th consecutive Six Nations defeat -- when they face the Azzurri in Rome on March 13.

"We have already spoken briefly about the importance of the next game," said Pivac.

"It would undo a lot of very good work if we didn't focus on that game and that game alone.

"Because we haven't really played the house down yet, we have well and truly got our feet on the ground," the New Zealander added.

Meanwhile, Pivac praised Bristol stand-off Sheedy, who had been off-target in Wales' nailbiting 25-24 win away to Scotland last time out.

"After missing a couple of kicks up in Edinburgh, to come on in that situation, a very tight game, he had three difficult kicks and hit all three of them well."

Pivac's position was being called into question after he oversaw just three Wales wins from 10 Tests in 2020, with two victories over Italy and one against second-tier Georgia not much consolation when his side suffered six successive defeats.

But the experienced Pivac weathered the storm.

"A lot of people may have thought that, at 24-24, England were coming pretty strong at us. But our guys found another gear again and we are very pleased with that," he said.

"For me personally it's about the players and providing them with an environment where they can come in and get the job done, keep improving.

"Hopefully, we are doing that and people are seeing that the hard work is starting to pay off. But there are still two big games to go."