Warburton eager to claim big three World Cup scalp

Wales captain Sam Warburton said Thursday that beating South Africa in a World Cup quarter-final would top the team’s run to the last four in 2011.

Four years ago in New Zealand, Wales beat Ireland in the quarter-finals.

They then suffered an agonising 9-8 semi-final loss to France in a match where Warburton was sent off.

However, the Welsh got to the last four on that occasion without beating one of the southern hemisphere powers — South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

They lost 17-16 to the Springboks in pool play and were later beaten 21-18 by the Wallabies in the third place play-off.

Wales have enjoyed just one win over the big three at a World Cup, when they defeated Australia 22-21 in the third-place match at the inaugural 1987 edition.

“I think it would be a better achievement than four years ago,” said Warburton when asked how he would rate a victory over South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

“We didn’t beat a southern hemisphere team at the last World Cup so that’s a target — to beat the southern hemisphere when it matters,” the flanker added.

Wales defeated tournament hosts England 28-25 last month but lost 15-6 to Australia in the Pool A decider.

Last week, the Welsh could not manage a try against Australia, even when the Wallabies were down to 13 men for eight minutes in the second half after Will Genia and Dean Mumm had been sent to the sin-bin at Twickenham.

“A lot of chances we blew,” said Warburton. “But they are easy fixes.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland, however, said the squad had been read the riot act.

“We’ve been pretty critical of the players,” he explained.

He highlighted two missed opportunities against Australia when they did not take advantage of an overlap.

“The hard thing is to make the skilled decision where you’ve got to take an out ball or potentially make a pass.”

The New Zealander said the squad had taken his comments on board.

“We keep saying to them that being critical is about making them better players.

“If you stop criticising, you then start worrying because it means that we’ve stopped caring.”


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