Six Nations 2018: Wales thrashes Scotland in opener
Scotland went into the match with high hopes after its strong showing in the Autumn internationals, but the visitor was on the back foot inside just 12 minutes as Wales crossed for two converted tries.
Leading 14-0 at the half, Warren Gatland’s team rubbed it in after the break with two more tries, including a second from Leigh Halfpenny who scored 24 of his team’s points.
Replacement Peter Horne went over for a late consolation try for the Scots in the 79th minute, but it was scant consolation.
“It’s hard to take any positives from a match like this,” admitted Scotland captain John Barclay.
‘That was a massive performance,” said Welsh flanker Aaron Springler, who was named man of the match, one of several men in red who could have been afforded that honor.
Scotland, who thrashed Australia and pushed the New Zealand All Blacks close in its most recent matches, could not have made a poorer start in the Principality Stadium as Gareth Davies went over for the opening try on seven minutes, with Halfpenny slotting over the conversion.
Halfpenny then scored his first try for Wales in five years and added the extras himself.
There were no further scores before the break, but two penalties from Halfpenny took Wales 20 points clear with still no response from the disappointing Scots.
Halfpenny then added his second try, again converted before Steff Evans scored the best of the four, although television replays showed he had benefited from a forward pass. With Wales having secured a bonus point, Horne’s converted effort was of little consequence.
Sexton late heroics for Ireland
Later Saturday, Ireland dashed France’s hopes of an upset win as fly-half Johnny Sexton’s drop goal secured a dramatic 15-13 victory in Paris.
With Ireland trailing 13-12 after a brilliant Teddy Thomas try for the home side, Sexton’s kick sailed between the posts in the final action of a match that only burst to life in the closing stages.
Sexton’s boot had given the Irish a 12-6 lead, courtesy of four penalties against pair from Maxime Machenaud for the home side in an dogged encounter, played in light drizzle.
But Thomas’ try, converted by Anthony Belleau, looked set to give France a winning start to the Six Nations.
Then up stepped Sexton to deliver the hammer blow after an Irish move of over 30 phases against defiant defense from the French.
“All our goals would have crumbled if we had lost,” said Sexton as he celebrated his side’s eighth straight win.