MX23RW : Friday, January 18 02:07:11

Gatland glad to have kicked off autumn series against Scotland

Gatland glad to have kicked off autumn series against Scotland
© Reuters
Wales will strive to avoid a 14th successive against the Wallabies when they tackle them next weekend.

Warren Gatland believes that Wales “would have struggled” had they opened their autumn Test series against Australia.

Wales’ 21-10 victory over Scotland at the Principality Stadium was their 10th successive home win in the fixture.

But improvements will be required for the Wallabies’ Cardiff visit next weekend, when Wales will strive to avoid a 14th defeat on the bounce against Michael Cheika’s men.

“To be honest, if we came up against Australia today I think we would have struggled, just with them having come off the Rugby Championship,” Wales head coach Gatland said.

“It is not so much getting the monkey off the back.

“There have been games against Australia when we have been leading going into the final minute and they have scored a try or we’ve conceded a penalty. If you look at the points difference in those games, there is nothing in it.

“Unfortunately, we have been unlucky at times. Next week it will be nice to go out and get a result, but the more important one is going to be the pool game against them at the World Cup next year.

Wales v Scotland – Autumn International – Principality Stadium
Wales head coach Warren Gatland expects a tougher test against Australia (Paul Harding/PA)

“If you win that, you potentially put yourself in a position to be in a side of the draw that might be a little bit easier than the other side.

“Australia have their own pressures back home and need performances and results, so it should be interesting.”

Tries by British and Irish Lions Test stars George North and Jonathan Davies underpinned victory in the inaugural Doddie Weir Cup clash.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked 11 points to leave Scotland still without a win on Welsh soil since 2002 – the same year as Wales last claimed victory in an opening autumn fixture.

Wales v Scotland – Autumn International – Principality Stadium
Jonathan Davies scores Wales’ second try (Paul Harding/PA)

Skipper Stuart McInally scored a try for the visitors, while fly-half Adam Hastings – son of former Scotland and Lions captain Gavin Hastings – booted a penalty and conversion, and Wales had to defend for long periods of the second half before subduing their opponents.

Gatland, meanwhile, confirmed that hooker Ken Owens underwent head injury assessments during half-time and after the match – passing them both – after being on the receiving end of a hefty 40th-minute collision.

“Ken is fine,” Gatland added.

“He has taken a knock on the nose, which was a bleed, and just as a precaution we did an HIA. He passed that, and one after the game as well.

Wales v Italy – NatWest 6 Nations – Principality Stadium
Ken Owens had a head injury assessment during the match (David Davies/PA)

“Just because you get a knock to the face, it doesn’t mean you are concussed.

“It is understandable (the concern), and the welfare of the player is the most important thing. It was precautionary to give him an HIA because there was some blood. It wasn’t a concussion, it was a whack on the nose.”

Scotland now move on to face Fiji, South Africa and Argentina during the next three weeks, and head coach Gregor Townsend was left to reflect on a frustrating afternoon that included missed tackles by centre Huw Jones when both Welsh tries were scored.

Townsend said: “Huw put his hand up in the changing room to the players straightaway. They were big mistakes in the game.

“He is a player who works really hard. I thought he attacked well, but defending at this level, you have got to put your tackles in, especially when you have got guys who are world-class attackers.

“We will always look at what we could do better. The two tries they scored, we will look at as defensive errors.

“We didn’t start with the energy and the accuracy that is required in a game like this against a very good opponent.”


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