James Mortimer 20.Nov.2012Getty Images
This imperious attacking game, combined with defensive systems masterminded by Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards, allowed Wales to capture the 2012 Six Nations with a Grand Slam.
When the North headed South of the equator for the June Internationals, Wales were expected to be the most formidable challenger, not only picked to win a Test in Australia, but potentially to take the series of the second ranked rugby nation – revenge for their tight loss in the World Cup.
Yet the Wallabies were able to engineer a 3-0 series victory, without a doubt the closest series of that month, but records are cruel mistresses that reflect on scorelines only.
The result was marked as a significant failure from what many felt was Wales’ strongest side in decades, especially considering the home team was understrength, and many feel they relied on an overly conservative game plan to beat the talked up tourists.
Losses against a resurgent Argentinean side and a physical Samoan team were bad enough, but suggestions from the Pacific Islanders that the Welsh game was easy to counter, while their attack was non-threatening has irked the Red Dragons more than the results themselves.
Interim coach Rob Howley said that Wales had developed their tactics since, but said it wasn’t the plan, but the execution that let them down.
"We have changed since the Australian tour,” Howley said.
“If they are saying that, it's up to them, but we have a belief in the way we want to play. We want strong runners and to put sides under pressure with our kicking game. But international rugby is about accuracy and we weren't accurate enough.”
However Samoan captain David Lemi said that his team had done their homework, indicative of the strides the Pacific Island nation continues to make, showing that their massive Cardiff scalp was not a combination of brawn and luck.
For all of Wales well heralded heroics during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, only a Shane Williams try in the 67th minute of their Pool D clash gave his team not only a 17-10 victory over a Samoa that matched their Six Nations opponents in every facet - but passage to the knockout stages.
Lemi revealed that loss had led to Samoa’s gaze settling on Wales for some time.
“We’ve been watching Wales since the World Cup,” Lemi said.
“They used the same tactics in the Six-Nations and against Argentina. If you stop their go-forward man then you stop them playing. Wales’ strength is in their tight five but we controlled the scrums and lineouts and their talented backs did not get the ball to play.”
“We were bitterly disappointed to lose in the World Cup and this was a bit of pay back.”