CARDIFF (Reuters) - Wales coach Warren Gatland was pleased with a rare win at the start of the November internationals as his side defeated Scotland 21-10 in an error-strewn clash on Saturday.
Wales usually come up against Southern Hemisphere opposition fresh from the Rugby Championship at this time of year, but opted to host Six Nations rivals Scotland and won their opening test in November for the first time since a 2002 success over Romania.
It is all part of the planning of Gatland as he builds towards next year’s World Cup and he will hope that the rustiness in the victory over the Scots is gone by the time his side host Australia next weekend.
“It’s nice to get a hit out rather than being thrown in against a southern hemisphere team coming off the rugby championship, which is always a tough ask,” Gatland told reporters.
“There are aspects of our game that need to improve. The kicking game will need to improve. But there were also lots of positives and lots to build on. There wasn’t a lot of space out there. Scotland didn’t look like stretching us out wide, which I found a bit surprising.”
The match was also about experimentation with both sides missing players as the game fell outside of the designated international window.
There was a lot of pre-game talk about how Gareth Anscombe would go in the flyhalf berth and Gatland was pleased.
“He attacked the line, put some players into some holes. He hasn’t had a huge amount of games but we were pleased with him,” he said.
“Gareth had a good performance and that was pleasing for him. We wanted to create some depth in that position. We’ve got three or four 10s to be fighting for that role and they’ve all got their strengths.”
Wales next host an Australia side who have won the last 13 clashes between the sides, but have had an indifferent 2018, including finishing third in the Rugby Championship and a home series loss to Ireland.
Gatland is aware that this month provides his side with the opportunity to boost their confidence ahead of the World Cup and with the Australians in their pool in Japan, victory next week would send a major marker.
“It’s not about getting the monkey off the back,” he said.
“There are games where we’ve been leading going into the final minutes. Unfortunately, we’ve been unlucky at times but it would be nice to win next week and get a result.
“But the more important game will be at the World Cup. From a confidence point of view, it will be interesting. They’ve got their own pressures back home and they need performances and results too.”
Reporting by Nick Said, Editing by Ed Osmond