Wales boss Warren Gatland predicted big win over Scots and his team delivered
Wales claimed their first bonus-point victory in the Six Nations.
Warren Gatland said he had fully expected a dominant victory over Scotland as his Wales side opened their NatWest 6 Nations campaign with a thumping 34-7 victory in Cardiff.
Scotland arrived in Wales with genuine hopes of a first win at Cardiff since 2002 after beating Australia by a record score and losing narrowly to world champions New Zealand in the autumn.
Wales were also heavily depleted by injuries, but the rampant hosts ran in four tries for their first-ever Six Nations bonus point and stopped Scotland getting on the scoreboard until the final minute.
“It was an afternoon I was expecting with the way we have trained the last couple of weeks,” Wales coach Gatland said.
“There was definitely a quiet confidence in the squad, they have been outstanding in their preparation and we went in the game expecting to win reasonably comfortably.
“I told the chief executive (Martyn Phillips) that I thought we would win by 20 points at the team run (on Friday) and he was shocked.
“But that’s how well we’ve trained. The guys, they’ve been excellent.”
Leigh Halfpenny ended a five-year Test try drought as he crossed twice, the full-back providing 24 of Wales’ points.
Fellow Scarlets Gareth Davies and Steff Evans also scored, with Scotland’s late response coming from replacement Pete Horne.
2 - Leigh Halfpenny now has 2⃣ tries after not scoring a Test try for five years. Buses. pic.twitter.com/LjXf5mTb6g— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 3, 2018
“I thought we defended superbly. Scotland have a lot of attacking threats and we had to cope with that,” Gatland said.
“Apart from the soft try at the end our defence was outstanding.
“Getting the bonus point was pleasing as well and we probably left two or three tries out there on the pitch, so there is some improvement for us to do there.
“As a squad we can all get better for next week.”
Wales’ next test is against defending champions England at Twickenham and Gatland hopes to welcome back some key players.
Liam Williams will take a full part in training on Monday after an abdominal problem, and fellow British and Irish Lion George North should also be available.
Bath number eight Toby Faletau is also closing in on a return, although Gatland says he needs game-time following a knee problem, while outside-half Dan Biggar is making “good progress” after shoulder trouble.
Wales looking ominously cohesive !! 😳😳#WALvSCO— Will Carling (@willcarling) February 3, 2018
“It’s nice to have that competition in the squad with some quality players knowing they will have to fight really hard for their position,” Gatland said.
“I said a few weeks ago that the draw was great for us. We’ve got England and Ireland away and more often than not we’ve had a really tough opening fixture.
“Getting Scotland up first at home was great for us to get off to a winning start and a lot of the players wanted to make up for last year’s disappointment at Murrayfield.”
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said Wales’ opening try – Davies intercepting an Ali Price pass before dashing 60 metres – had sapped Scotland’s confidence.
The Scots then capitulated in pretty much the same way when losing 61-21 to England at Twickenham last season after having travelled with great optimism.
“I think it (being overawed by the occasion) is something we have to ask because we didn’t play like we could,” Townsend said.
“That was miles below what we know we are capable of and where we need to be at in this championship.
The Welsh read our attack and neutralised it— John Beattie (@BBCJohnBeattie) February 3, 2018
“We should be criticised for this performance – whether it’s from the press or the fans who came down here to support us – but now we have an opportunity to put things right this week.
“We have four games left to be much, much better than we were today, and I believe in the players and their determination to make things right.
“We were badly beaten and it was a defeat, but there weren’t many away wins in the championship last year and now we need to bounce back.”