Gatland saw Scotland drubbing coming

Frederick Owens
February 5, 2018

It nearly came with a good kick and chase from new boy Josh Adams, but Stuart Hogg was across quickly to snuff out the danger. Sadly, that expectation was often misplaced - and sometimes extinguished on the first day of the Six Nations. That may do a disservice to a fast-improving Scotland but while England are no longer backed up by the professional contracts that made such a difference past year, the inaugural Tyrrells Premier 15s competition has succeeded in ensuring standards have not dropped off a cliff. After Price was penalised for a crooked feed into a scrum, 10 metres from his own line, Patchell, who attacked the gainline all afternoon, broke the defensive line and when the ball was moved right, the second-row Cory Hill could have been expected to stick his head down and charge. Last year was a positive year.

That was a great result but nothing to what Scotland did to the same opposition back in November. Over 50 points and eight tries later, I had my answer. But a bonus-point win, plus the fact that the huge amount of Scarlets in the team are clearly being allowed play their exciting brand of rugby, has turned a lot of heads.

This is why I am so looking forward to the game in Cardiff. In addition, Jess Breach, the Harlequins wing who scored 11 tries in her first two Tests in the autumn, was in Australia rather than at Bisham Abbey preparing for the Six Nations.

It's set up to be yet another fascinating tournament, but there is still a dark cloud overhanging this year's Six Nations.

Wales hope the Scarlets' winning formula can rub off and help Warren Gatland's side to victory when they welcome a resurgent Scotland in Cardiff for their Six Nations opener on Saturday.

Again, other than Italy, the Scots have not won an away game in the Six Nations since beating Ireland in Dublin in 2010.

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"Injuries at the wrong time held me back". All world-class players that any team would miss.

"The way they've been playing - that was a performance borne out of respect for them", said Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones.

History is mixed when global teams are picked nearly fully from one club. We're really happy with the squad selected and the development we've shown. Some players can not cope with this step up and struggle; others thrive.

Barclay, who has assumed the captaincy from Greig Laidlaw, said at his eve-of-match press conference that he doubted Gatland would change a formula of play that has served him well in 10 years as Wales coach.

Wales were dismissed as 15-1 title outsiders before the tournament started, but those odds were quickly slashed following a four-try shredding of the Scots that saw Gatland's team display a blistering all-court game. "I don't know if it can be created in a week for the other guys and I don't think they will try to".

But the one solace is that once the first whistle goes in Cardiff this Saturday to begin this year's Six Nations, that familiar thrill, that spine-tingling rush and the feeling of the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, will all come flooding back, and for the next six weeks, nothing else will feel as important as the rugby.

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