Wayne Pivac says ending his disappointing first Six Nations campaign as Wales coach with a resounding win over Scotland next weekend is a “no brainer” following the 33-30 defeat by England on Saturday.
The New Zealander has seen his side slip to three successive defeats — after opening with a 42-0 whitewash of hapless Italy — for the first time since the 2007 Six Nations.
That dismal run came just before his compatriot Warren Gatland took over and enjoyed a highly successful 12-year tenure.
Defeat against Ireland ended Wales’ hopes of a Grand Slam repeat which was followed by a home loss to France and Saturday’s latest reverse ended their slim hopes of even retaining the title.
Pivac’s side came back strongly at the end on Saturday with two late tries but they did so against an England side reduced to 13 men after Manu Tuilagi’s red card and Ellis Genge’s sin-binning.
“With three defeats in a row, yes, beating Scotland is a no-brainer,” said Pivac.
“We will go back to work and would like to finish the campaign on a good note.
Support for Pivac, who has had criticism thrown at him even in the early days of his reign, came from a surprise quarter.
His England counterpart Eddie Jones was full of praise for the spirit shown by the Welsh.
“It has been a tough period for Wales,” said Jones. “They have been through a fantastic period with Warren.
“However, once you get to 850 caps, which is what they had today, you know there is some regeneration coming.
“If you were a supporter today you would be delighted by the spirit.
“Pivac is doing a good job there. He is taking some heat but you need to be kind to him.”
– ‘Tough on ourselves’ –
Pivac said it was comforting to hear those words but they should not cover over the errors that were made early in the match and which saw the Welsh trail 20-9.
“We did not help ourselves with some of our carries,” he said. “It was a very physical game but we grew into it.
“It is a shame we conceded those 20 points in the first half but we played too much rugby and our management of the game was not terrific.”
AFP / Adrian DENNIS
Pivac said his players
had done well to create the pressure for the two late tries but better
game management in the first-half might have produced a better result
Pivac, who was welcomed into the job with fans expecting a more expansive style compared to the Gatland era, said there would be an intensive review as to where things were breaking down.
“We will be tough on ourselves,” he said.
“We are here to win Test matches which we have not done in recent weeks.”
Pivac, who said lock Jake Ball faces a long time on the sidelines with a shoulder injury and Leigh Halfpenny had a bad gash to the knee, believed, unlike opposite number Jones, that Tuilagi deserved the red card late on for a dangerous tackle on Wales wing George North.
He also liked the way his side had created that pressure to provoke such a desperate effort by Tuilagi.
“The last quarter of the game we turned on a lot of pressure,” he said.
“We made them concede a load of penalties, then a yellow and a red card.
“It is to the players’ credit that the created the pressure for that to happen and to score two tries.”