RWC 2019: We can win the World Cup, says Wales full-back Liam Williams

Press Association Sport 08:35 16/10/2019
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Liam Williams believes Wales can win the World Cup in Japan.

The reigning Six Nations champions face a quarter-final showdown with France in Oita on Sunday.

Wales have beaten Les Bleus seven times in eight meetings since losing a controversial World Cup semi-final to them in 2011 when captain Sam Warburton was sent off.

If they knock out France, it will be a semi-final appointment with South Africa or a resurgent Japan in Yokohama.

“There is only one thing we think we can do and that is win it,” Wales full-back Williams said.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve got the easy route. We’ve got France next, and we need to beat them to be looking at the bigger picture.

“I think we can go on and win it.

“Over the past 18 months, we’ve won the Six Nations and we’ve been away on a couple of these camps and it has all brought us in to one huge team.

“I think that has been great for Wales and hopefully it is going to put us in really good stead.”

Saracens star Williams would achieve a remarkable individual grand slam if Wales go on to be crowned world champions.

Already this year he helped Wales win the Six Nations title and the Grand Slam before being part of a Saracens team that landed the Heineken Champions Cup and Gallagher Premiership.

And he is enjoying every minute of the World Cup, which has been highlighted by hosts Japan winning their group with four successive wins, including memorable victories over Ireland and Scotland.

“They were unbelievable – fair play to them,” added Williams, reflecting on the 28-21 win against Scotland two days ago.

“I thought the accuracy of their passing was unbelievable. We know it has been quite hot out here and sweaty, so the passing was unbelievable and they played with some real structure as well, which was just amazing. Scotland didn’t really have any answers.

“Some people try to play like that, some people like to kick a bit more. Japan like to keep the ball in hand.

“It depends what works for a team, I guess. But we were watching it in the changing rooms after the (Wales versus Uruguay) game, and it was unbelievable.”

For Williams and company, though, the immediate challenge is France, and beating a Six Nations rival that could set up a full-scale tilt at global glory.

“I think France have been playing really well,” he said.

“They have got some old heads in their team and they have a lot of experience as well. We will go on to the training pitch this week and work on the stuff that we will need to beat France.

“We’ve started a couple of our games quite well. Obviously against Australia we started really well in the first half but we dropped off. We need to start hard and keep that up for the whole game.”

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RWC 2019: Scotland set up Japan showdown with bonus-point win against Russia

Press Association Sport 13:20 09/10/2019
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Scotland hammered Russia 61-0 as they claimed the crucial World Cup bonus-point win that tees up a do-or-die showdown with Japan on Sunday.

Gregor Townsend’s team needed to take maximum points from their clash with the Bears in Shizuoka to give themselves the best possible chance of making the quarter-finals, and they did just that thanks to a stunning nine-try demolition job.

George Horne became the first Scottish scrum-half to score a hat-trick after Adam Hastings put the Dark Blues ahead with a quick-fire early double.

George Turner, Tommy Seymour, John Barclay and Stuart McInally also scored in a resounding win that now leaves Scotland needing victory over the hosts in Yokohama in four days’ time to seal their place in the last eight.

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RWC 2019: Scott Wisemantel insists England will adapt to weather conditions

Press Association Sport 08:42 09/10/2019
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England’s climax to the World Cup group stage against France is facing the triple threat of illness, injury and the approach of Super Typhoon Hagibis.

Captain Owen Farrell and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie have been struck down by a stomach bug, while Billy Vunipola, Jack Nowell and Joe Marler are being treated for knocks sustained in Saturday’s victory over Argentina.

But the gravest danger posed to the Pool C decider could be from one of the most aggressive typhoons ever recorded, on course to wipe out both weekend matches being played at Yokohama.

The extreme weather event had initially threatened Ireland’s crunch fixture against Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday but is now arrowing towards Tokyo and Yokohama, where it could have a significant impact on England’s all-Six Nations clash.

Hagibis has escalated from a tropical storm into a Category 5 super typhoon, with winds estimated at 160mph set to make it one of the most dramatic intensifications of any tropical cyclone since records began.

Such storms can fade and change direction and there have already been false alarms at this World Cup – but on its existing trajectory it is due to hit Tokyo and Yokohama this weekend.

Any games cancelled due to weather problems are registered as scoreless draws and would have no impact on the final standings as England and France have already qualified for the quarter-finals.

Efforts would be made to stage the game elsewhere but contingency plans have not been made public and any changes would cause havoc to the plans of travelling supporters.

Nearly 150,000 fans are due to attend the weekend’s two games at International Stadium Yokohama, including Sunday’s crunch showdown between Japan and Scotland that will help decide a ferociously competitive Pool A.

“We have no control over the weather and we have to prepare for the game and see how it goes,” attack coach Scott Wisemantel said.

“Regarding the permutation around the game and shared points, we are just concentrating on playing to win.

“I live in a bubble and I don’t know where the game would be played (if it is called off).

“One thing I have learnt in Japan is that they prepare for the worst and then usually it doesn’t eventuate.”

If Super Typhoon Hagibis fails to strike, then England’s plans still face the disruption of ranks thinned by injury and sickness.

Vunipola is the biggest concern as he continues his recovery from the twisted ankle sustained in Saturday’s bonus-point victory over Argentina, with Eddie Jones refusing to give a definitive update on his fitness.

Wisemantel confirmed that Vunipola is expected to be available for the knockout phase but insists no risks will be taken over his fitness against France.

Mark Wilson or Tom Curry will deputise for in a team that is likely to show several changes to the XV that defeated 14-man Argentina.

Jack Nowell made his comeback after four months out with an ankle problem against the Pumas but is suffering from stiffness in his left leg, while prop Joe Marler is struggling with a back problem and has also become a doubt.

The health and fitness of Farrell is worrying after he was the victim of a dangerous tackle against Argentina and what followed was a disappointing performance from the Saracens fly-half.

Wisemantel said: “The bump didn’t have any effect on him. I asked after the game and he said he felt pretty good, just a bit clunky with a few of the plays, but I thought he did outstandingly well.

“He’s a tough, competitive player who, if anything because he competes so hard, probably tries to over-rectify the situation.

“We haven’t had our final selection and we will do that tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.

“We need to look at whether it is worthwhile resting him, whether it isn’t, whether we keep it going – that is one for debate.”

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