Six Nations 2015: Warren Gatland expects tough Scotland test
Wales head coach gives players a chance to redeem themselves after disappointing second half in defeat to England last week
Warren Gatland expects another tough examination when Wales face Scotland at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.
The Kiwi has never lost to Scotland since taking charge of Wales in 2008, but saw his side blow a 16-8 half-time lead against England last week as they lost 21-16.
It’s going to be a tough game for us going up there…we have got to go and play a little bit more rugby.
The Dark Blues also lost their opening Six Nations match, despite scoring the only try late in the first half, as their indiscipline allowed Clermont Auvergne outside-half Camille Lopez to add two second half penalties in a 15-8 win.
But Scotland are a far more resilient outfit now than the one that crumbled in Cardiff last March as they went down to a record 51-3 defeat after full-back Stuart Hogg was red carded in the first half.
“It’s going to be a tough game for us going up there,” Gatland said.
“I think there’s a 60 per cent chance of rain looking at the forecast.
“That will pose an interesting dilemma, but we have got to get out there and get back on the horse and play well.
“We have got to go and play a little bit more rugby.
“It was frustrating when you look at the game and the way some teams play against us.
“England drove every line-out and put a lot of ball in the air and that was an effective game-plan for them playing against us.
“We got sucked into that a bit in the second half and we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Gatland also admits he was disappointed that Wales only performed for 40 minutes against their bitter rivals and let themselves down.
Our performance just wasn’t good enough…we need to go and play for longer than 40 minutes that’s for sure.
An early Leigh Halfpenny penalty and a converted Rhys Webb try had given Wales a 10-0 lead, but England hit back with an Anthony Watson try.
Outside-half Dan Biggar landed a last-minute drop-goal to give the hosts a 16-8 lead at the break, but that was the last score for Gatland’s side as they failed to get much out of a heroic England performance.
“To be honest, I thought we played pretty well in the first half and went in at half-time feeling pretty comfortable,” Gatland added.
“In fairness to them they have come out and played exceptionally well in the second half and we haven’t started well. That’s disappointing for us.
“They played well in the second half and our performance just wasn’t good enough.
“I think we have identified that. We have let ourselves down, we let a lot of the fans down as well and we need to go and play for longer than 40 minutes that’s for sure.”
Despite Scotland’s impressive rise under Gatland’s compatriot, Vern Cotter, Wales go into the match as favourites having made just one change from the team that lined up in Cardiff last week.
Sometimes you make changes and other times you’ve got to back experience and back those players that haven’t performed for us, particularly in that second half, and give them a chance to redeem themselves.
That change, perhaps expectantly, was to omit Northampton Saints wing George North after he was struck in the head twice against England.
The second, missed by medics and the Wales management, still very much lingering in the background, despite World Rugby clearing the WRU of any wrongdoing.
And Gatland concedes he was under a lot of pressure to make changes, but decided to give the players a chance to redeem themselves at the first opportunity.
“I spoke to the players today and the forward pack in particular have been given a chance to redeem themselves,” he said.
“Other players are disappointed that they’ve not been given an opportunity and I respect that.
“Sometimes you make changes and other times you’ve got to back experience and back those players that haven’t performed for us, particularly in that second half, and give them a chance to redeem themselves.
“We gave a huge amount of thought to it.
“Sometimes you do that and sometimes you go with your gut instinct.”