Wales claimed silverware in the eighth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Glasgow, but skipper Adam Thomas looked almost apologetic when holding aloft the Shield after guiding his side to victory over Japan at Scotstoun Stadium.
Wales went into last weekend's tournament in a confident frame of mind after reaching the Plate final in Hong Kong in March where they ran current series runners-up South Africa close before being edged out.
With realistic ambitions of reaching the Cup quarter-finals in Glasgow, Wales finished bottom of their pool after beginning their campaign with a hard fought win over Kenya. But defeat to Argentina (17-28) and Fiji (45-0) saw them plummet to the bottom of pool and re-directed to the minor competitions on day two where a loss to France (21-7) saw Gareth Williams' side end up in the Shield where they beat Portugal (38-7) in the semi-final before beating Japan 29-12 in the final.
As a consequence, Wales picked up only three points from the tournament to remain in 10th position overall with 60 points. Hosts Scotland reached a first Cup semi-final since 2009 to collect 15 points and move up alongside Wales while France are now just two points behind on 58.
Wales now find themselves with a huge mountain to climb this weekend at Twickenham in the ninth and final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Marriott London Sevens on 10-11 May, where they are in the same pool as series leaders New Zealand, England and Argentina.
Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams admitted his team were their own worst enemy by giving teams too much of a head start and that trait must be eradicated if Wales are to get out of their pool this weekend.
"Winning the Shield was only a consolation for some poor results," he said. "The biggest frustration was our inability to start games so slowly and allowing teams to open up heavy advantages.
"We chased Kenya down well, and started the group in a positive manner, but we failed to finish off a comeback against Argentina after returning from 21-0 down to 21-17 with a minute left on the clock. We have to realise that allowing teams such a strong start will catch up with us. This problem followed us to the Bowl semi-final versus France and it is a trait we have to rectify prior to this weekend in London.
"We set ourselves the challenge of bouncing back against Portugal and Japan, and the boys responded to be fair to them. These matches give us some foundation to build to a hugely exciting weekend at Twickenham, and we will spend this week analysing and ensuring we come out of the blocks as strongly as we have ended games in Glasgow."
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