Wales produced an unconvincing display and lost fly-half James Hook to injury as they laboured to a 34-13 victory over Canada on Friday night.
Sporting Life reports that Ospreys star Hook had to be helped off the pitch at the Millennium Stadium after just 18 minutes, the knee injury coming just eight days before Wales’ showdown with New Zealand.
That will concern coach Warren Gatland, as will the overall performance, especially in the first half.
Canada, hammered 55-0 by reland last weekend, took a surpirse lead when James Pritchard booted over a penalty and they still led midway through the half.
Wales finally broke through a stubborn defence after 25 minutes when full-back Morgan Stoddart squeezed over in the corner after collecting a pass from Tom Shanklin.
However, Canada refused to lie down and Pritchard kicked a monster penalty from the halfway line to restore their lead.
It looked as if the Canucks would lead at the interval but just before the break teenage winger Leigh Halfpenny prodcued a fine solo try to make it 10-6.
Doubtless fired up by some harsh words during the interval from Gatland, Wales pushed on to widen the scoreline in the second half.
Dan Biggar, on in place on Hook for his Test debut, added a pealty before the Welsh were awarded two penalty tries following lengthy periods encamped on the Canadian line. Both were converted by Biggar.
Canada scored their only try late with five minutes to go when Ryan Smith intercepted Biggar’s pass and ran clear to touch down underneath the posts.
Wales at least finished with a flourish, Halfpenny adding his second try – the best of the night – on the final play of the match before Biggar kicked another conversion to finish with nine points on debut.
Afterwards Gatland revealed Hook would undergo a scan, but remained hopeful that he would play against the All Blacks.
“He took a bit of a knock on the knee, and he’ll have a scan, but he’s hoping he will be OK,” said the coach.
“I was pleased with the victory, but not so pleased with the performance. There were a lot of turnovers – 30 in all compared to 19 last week (in the 20-15 defeat to South Africa). So we were not happy with that.
“From our point of view, I don’t think we respected the ball enough. We probably tried to force too many passes, and our skill level let us down. They were lyrical balls we were trying to give.”Tweet