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Wonderful Wales unleash their Scarlets to thrash Scotland

Warren Gatland’s men lit up the opening day of the Six Nations.

Wales 34

Scotland 7

THE SIX NATIONS got off to an absolute firecracker of a start in the Principality Stadium as Wales delivered on promises to move beyond their ‘Warrenball’ roots while Scotland unraveled.

Tries from Gareth Davies and Leigh Halfpenny in the space of six first-half minutes practically put the Test beyond Scotland with only 12 minutes on the clock and the bonus point victory was sealed by scores from Halfpenny and Steff Evans in the final quarter.

Alun Wyn Jones is tackled by Ali Price Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Gregor Townsend’s men, much-fancied in the tournament build-up, began in promising style. The visitors in Cardiff owned the ball and dominated territory for almost six minutes.

But on such ‘almosts’ are Test matches swung, because with 5.48 on the clock, scrum-half Ali Price released an ill-advised long flat pass from a ruck and his opposite number Gareth Davies telegraphed the pill, pinned his ears back and was only caught by Chris Harris’ ankle tap.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

The centre’s effort to limit the damage by giving Halfpenny a difficult angle to convert from was in vain as the fullback expertly smashed over the extra two.

Halfpenny was one of 10 Scarlets named in Warren Gatland’s starting XV and the spirit of Wayne Pivac’s champion side was fully in evidence as Wales reveled in space afforded them by a disjointed Scottish defence.

Jonny Gray dejected after conceding a try Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Scotland’s problem’s were exacerbated by the piano shifters in red showing they could play a bit too.

Rob Evans, Cory Hill and Samson Lee each added commendable tight five handling skill to make for a thrilling spectacle of running rugby. But arguably Scotland’s chief tormentor was Alun Wyn Jones, the 32-year-old lock making breaks and popping passes like a centre.

Wales’ lead doubled thanks to a smooth left-to-right move fueled by Davies and Hill’s ability to fix a defender and change the point of attack to give Scott Williams time and space to fling a pass for Halfpenny to force his way in for a rare try.

Scotland were more than rattled. The match calmed down from the furious pace set at the beginning, but the basic skills and systems were sorely lacking from the visitors and the Welsh line was never seriously troubled.

Wales emerged with a 14-point lead in the second half and duly set about rubber stamping the victory with two Leigh Halfpenny penalties before the salt was well and truly rubbed in Scotland’s wound by Evans.

Steff Evans scores their fourth try Evans reaches for a magnificent fourth Welsh try. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

First the Scarlets wing supplied Halfpenny with his second try with a magnificent Samson Lee-esque tip-on pass and he capped off a terrific show with a majestic diving one-handed finish to seal a bonus point victory.

All that was left was to nil the Scots, but the visitors managed to at least avoid that indignity as Peter Horne sneaked through a late gap to finally put points on the board after 78 minutes.

Minute-by-minute: France v Ireland, Six Nations

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Sean Farrell

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