Wales were superb in the first half of their 43-14 victory over Georgia on Monday, securing a bonus point after tries from centre Jonathan Davies, flanker Justin Tipuric, wing Josh Adams and full-back Liam Williams, with Dan Biggar kicking three conversions and a penalty.
And although the second period proved a much tighter affair – tries by hooker Shalva Mamukashvili and replacement prop Levan Chilachava accurately reflected a stirring Georgia recovery – Wales were never threatened.
Fly-half Tedo Abzhandadze kicked two conversions, while Biggar added the extras to Wales’ fifth try from substitute scrum-half Tomos Williams before wing George North claimed a fine solo try that Leigh Halfpenny converted.
With the bonus point wrapped up, there were suggestions Wales held back some of the play-book they will unleash on the Wallabies.
While Gatland said this was not true, he conceded there is more to see from his side.
“I don’t think we tried to hide any moves in the second half,” he told reporters.
“We spoke about being smart, and in the second half the ball got slippery and there was moisture, so handling for both teams was quite tough.
“We do have a few things up our sleeve for next week. It’s tough with a six-day turnaround. We’ve got to make sure we recover well and then start really planning.”
Gatland believed their second-half slump was more to do with the loss of continuity after making changes off the bench.
“The first half was clinical, but we let things slip a little bit in the second. We lost some continuity by making some changes with the subs, but we are trying to keep the players as fresh as we can,” he added.
The Wales coach was impressed with the way Australia held off a stern challenge from Fiji to win their opening game 39-21.
“Australia soaked up a lot of pressure as Fiji came flying out the blocks and were very impressive. They managed the game exceptionally well in the tight and Fiji then started to tire,” he said.
Wales beat Australia 9-6 in their previous meeting in November, but had lost 13 games in a row to the Wallabies before that.
"They were devoured by Ireland’s overwhelmingly superior intensity, dismembered like a baby seal tossed into a shark tank."
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 23, 2019
Gatland also said that the next 24 hours are crucial for his lock Cory Hill, who must prove his recovery from an ankle injury and stress fracture in his leg, or face being sent home from the World Cup.
A decision then looks likely to be made on Hill, who has been battling to overcome the injury and has not played since February.
“We will assess him tomorrow and see his progress. If it is not good news he will go back, but if they think they can get him to recover, he will stay out here,” Gatland added.
Flyhalf Biggar picked up a minor cut to his chin from a teammate’s head during the pre-match warmup against Georgia.
But Gatland said: “He’s fine.
“I’ve just been through it with the physio now. We’ve got a few guys sore and battered, as you’d expect after an international test match. But nothing of major concern.”
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