Six Nations: Gatland to get tough after Wales' Murrayfield capitulation

By Sports Desk February 11, 2023

Warren Gatland suggested he might need to get tough on his Wales players following their dismal Six Nations defeat to Scotland.

Wales suffered a second straight loss to start this year's Six Nations campaign as they went down 35-7 at Murrayfield.

It was Gatland's first defeat to Scotland in the tournament since 2001, when his Ireland team lost 32-10, having won all 10 of his previous matches against them as Wales head coach.

Gatland omitted experienced trio Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau and Justin Tipuric out of his starting line-up for Saturday's meeting, yet despite some promising play either side of half-time, Wales lost for a 10th time in the space of 12 Tests, suffering their heaviest away defeat to Scotland in the process.

With the defeat following a 34-10 reverse on home soil to Ireland, Gatland hinted there will be no holding back as he and his coaches search for a turnaround ahead of hosting England on February 25.

He told BBC Sport: "We were okay in the first half and could have gone in ahead at half-time. Some of the things that affected us last week, our discipline, giving penalties away, and not being accurate, that was the most disappointing factor [again].

"We had six minutes in their 22, and have come away with bugger all, so we need to have a good hard look at ourselves – we need to get better, and probably be a bit tougher on the players.

"We were beaten by the better team today, congratulations to Scotland – I thought they played exceptionally well. Finn Russell was outstanding.

"Some of the young boys really stepped up and we were pleased with their performances."

Scotland, meanwhile, have started a Six Nations campaign with back-to-back victories for the first time.

The last time they won their opening two matches was back in 1996, when only five teams competed in the tournament, though Gregor Townsend sees plenty of scope for improvement if his side are to continue their run against reigning champions France.

"We'll be confident, winning really helps. We had a really good week where we weren't easy on the players as coaches, but the players weren't easy on themselves," he told BBC Sport.

"We had two tough physical sessions and there were areas we had to improve from Twickenham. The challenge only gets stronger.

"This display, while encouraging, will have to go up another level if we want to win in Paris."

George Turner went over in the first half for Scotland before he was sent to the sin-bin, with Ken Owens crossing for Wales while the hooker was off the pitch.

Wales should have scored a second try on the cusp of half-time, only for Rio Dyer to fumble an easy chance, and Scotland made them pay with four tries in the second half to secure an emphatic bonus-point win.

"It was [a complete performance] in the second half. The first half, we didn't get our game going," Townsend said.

"We didn't get through first two phases on enough occasions. Wales were competing hard at the breakdown, slowing our ball down or winning the ball back, but we did build a score which was pleasing.

"On the flip side, the second half we were getting the opportunities and they led to tries. That's an outstanding win for the group because Wales have been a top team for a number of years. To come away with any win is pleasing, one with a bonus point sets us up well."

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