|Wales (14) 34|
|Tries: G Davies, Halfpenny (2), S Evans Cons: Halfpenny (4) Pens: Halfpenny (2)|
|Scotland (0) 7|
|Tries: P Horne Cons: Russell|
Wales made a dream start to the 2018 Six Nations as they crushed Scotland in a bonus-point win at the Principality Stadium.
The home team rocked the much-fancied Scots with early tries by Gareth Davies and Leigh Halfpenny.
After the break Halfpenny completed a 24-point haul with two penalties and a second try before Steff Evans dived over for the bonus-point try.
The visitors only managed a 79th minute try through Peter Horne.
Gatland claimed his 50th win as Wales coach in a match that marked the 10th anniversary of his first match in charge. It was also Wales’ 50th win in the expanded Six Nations tournament.
The Scots had travelled in hope after beating Wales for the first time in 10 years in 2017, but were ruthlessly taken apart in the second half.
The visitors could not break free from a smothering defence as Wales extended their winning home run against them past 16 years.
Full-back Halfpenny had not scored a Test try in five years and he also nailed six out of six kicks at goal for a personal best tally in a Test match.
But he was beaten to the man of the match award by flanker Aaron Shingler, who was part of a superb Welsh back row.
Having dazzled in the autumn series against Australia and New Zealand, Scotland could not get their running game going while Wales confounded predictions with their attacking intent.
Their power game in the later stages, however, came as no surprise while Scotland paid a heavy price for errors.
Making light of injuries
So much of the talk before the game was about injuries. But Scotland’s scrum was not dominated in spite of missing nine front-row players, while Wales made light of missing eight British and Irish Lions.
And Wales coach Warren Gatland’s decision to start with 10 players from one region paid rich dividends as all their points were contributed by Scarlets.
In reality, after a lightning-fast start, Finn Russell failed to trouble Wales’ midfield of Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams and Halfpenny handled the kicks well, sometimes under intense pressure.
And some of the rugby – particularly in the early stages – left the crowd breathless.
Scotland could have scored in the first two minutes when Jonny Gray galloped through a gap after Davies’ poor touch kick handed them an attacking platform.
And they still had Wales on the rack when Ali Price’s pass was intercepted by the predatory Davies who sprinted 70 metres for the opening try.
Wales were 12 points ahead in as many minutes when Halfpenny crossed for his first try in 35 Tests, ignoring an unmarked Josh Adams on the right to burst through Huw Jones’ tackle on the line.
And that followed a let-off for Scotland after Steff Evans dropped a pass five metres from the line after a thrilling move involving Rob Evans, Cory Hill and Alun Wyn Jones.
Scotland had more possession and territory, with Russell and Hogg counter-attacking dangerously. But a combination of handling errors and turnovers meant they could not manage a score in the first half.
Halfpenny’s two penalties early in the second half killed the game as a contest and when he dived over for his second try, it was a question of how many points Wales would score.
Evans’ acrobatic dive earned Wales first-ever try bonus point in the Six Nations and by the time replacement Horne crossed, Scotland were having to reappraise their Six Nations campaign.
Man of the match
Scotland must regroup before they host France at Murrayfield on 11 February, while Wales’ journey to face reigning champions England in Twickenham on 10 February.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “It was an afternoon I was expecting the way we’ve trained in the week. There was a quiet confidence in the squad.
“We expected to win and win reasonably comfortably. The chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union asked me yesterday how I thought we’d go and I said I thought we’d win by 20.
“Apart from a soft try at the end it was a great defensive display and it was great to get the bonus point as well and we can improve again for next week.”
Scotland captain John Barclay said: “It was not very good, obviously. We didn’t defend very well. The lineout creaked a little bit and they won comfortably in the end.
“At half-time we believed we could get back into the game, but we couldn’t get our attack functioning in the second half, but right now it’s hard to understand why at this stage.
“Wales ended up playing as lot like the Scarlets but we made a lot of mistakes and that was part of the issue.
“They scored good tries and the Scarlets boys did very well and we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we did in the autumn.”
Wales: Halfpenny; Adams, Williams, Parkes, S Evans; Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones (captain), Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty.
Replacements: Dee, W Jones, Francis, B Davies, Tipuric, A Davies, Anscombe, Watkin.
Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Harris, H Jones, McGuigan; Russell, Price; Reid, McInally, Welsh, Toolis, Gray, Barclay (captain), Watson, du Preez.
Replacements: Lawson, Bhatti, McCallum, Gilchrist, Wilson, Laidlaw, Horne, Maitland.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Touch judges: Romain Poite (France) & Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)
|10 (1)||Scrums won (lost)||6 (1)|
|10 (0)||Line-outs won (lost)||11 (3)|
|84 (4)||Rucks/mauls won (lost)||82 (2)|
|39||Kicks from hand||33|
|115 (18)||Tackles made (missed)||104 (15)|