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Sport

Pivac points to positives as England loom in Autumn Nation Cup

(Reuters) - Wales coach Wayne Pivac pointed to the positives as his overhauled side laboured to an 18-0 Autumn Nation Cup victory over Georgia that snapped a six-game losing streak ahead of a crunch clash with England in Llanelli next Saturday.

Rugby Union - Autumn Nations Cup - Wales v Georgia - Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, Wales, Britain - November 21, 2020 Wales coach Wayne Pivac before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

Wales would need a massive bonus-point win to stand a chance of finishing top of Group A, but foremost in Pivac’s mind will be a victory of any sort after a period in which his position has come under heavy scrutiny.

He made 13 changes for the visit of Georgia to a wet Parc y Scarlets, and was able to hand debuts to flanker James Botham, grandson of former England cricketer Ian, scrumhalf Kieran Hardy, centre Johnny Williams and teenage flyhalf Ioan Lloyd.

“In the areas we expected Georgia to come at us we went very well, the set-piece, the scrum and the driven line-out,” Pivac told reporters.

“It wasn’t the best conditions to move the ball in though we tried at times. We’ve seen some players for the first time and play reasonably well.

“There were some good performances. It was far from perfect but it was a step in the right direction.”

The victory was secured at the set-pieces, especially the scrum, where Wales’ supremacy that had been lacking in recent weeks was impressive.

“The set-piece hasn’t really functioned that well in the last two games. It’s been a real problem for us, but it worked and on a drier day I think we would have been a lot more dangerous.”

Pivac will revert to what he sees as his best XV for the visit of England, though there will be some concern over the fitness of key flank Justin Tipuric, who has previously had concussion issues and had to leave the field after being caught by a swinging Georgian arm.

“England is obviously a totally different proposition and we’ll put a side out that we think can get a job done,” the New Zealand-born coach added.

Number eight Taulupe Faletau is set to return from injury, but doubts remain over loose forward Josh Navidi, who will be assessed during the week.

Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Richard Pullin

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