Head coach Wayne Pivac lauded his team for making a step in the right direction after Wales ended a six-game losing streak with an 18-0 victory over Georgia in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Having fallen to Guinness Six Nations rivals Ireland 32-9 in their Group A opener last time out, the 2019 Grand Slam champions got off to an ideal start in tricky conditions at Parc y Scarlets, with Callum Sheedy kicking them into a 3-0 lead.
Wales made a point of fronting up to Georgia at the set-piece and gained significant territory after winning another penalty midway through the first half, Louis Rees-Zammit eventually dotting down for the game’s opening try on his first international start.
After Sheedy added the extras, the hosts successfully withstood Georgia pressure before another three points from the Bristol Bears star’s boot extended their lead, and replacement Rhys Webb added a second try late on.
And following a tough spell of results – which saw Wales finish fifth in the 2020 Guinness Six Nations – Pivac picked out plenty of positives from the contest, with a visit from recent Championship winners England next up.
“We’re still not perfect but it was a step in the right direction,” the 58-year-old said. “I was very happy with the set-piece – an area that hadn’t been good in the last two matches.
“We knew they were going to come at us in the scrum and in the lineout area. We’ve done some work there, the players have responded and I thought we repelled them very well.
“It’s going to be a game we’ll review very closely and we’ll have a look at how individuals went and then set up a side during the week to play England.
“Beating England would make up for a lot of the performances we’re not happy with. We’ve got seven days to look at this game and make sure we’re prepared as best as possible.”
Player of the Match Aaron Wainwright was a star among Wales’ high-firing pack, and the 23-year-old echoed his boss’ belief that the team’s physical dominance was a particularly pleasing aspect of the win.
And having prevented the Georgians from getting on the scoreboard for the second game in succession, the Dragons back-rower is looking forward to seeing how he and his teammates can continue to improve in the remainder of the Autumn Nations Cup campaign.
He added: “We knew Georgia were going to be a big, physical team. You saw what we can do when we put a few phases together, we were successful at the set-piece which was really encouraging.
“For us it’s just about getting that platform to enable us to play more, speed the ball up at the breakdown and when we do that we can cause any team problems.”