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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Six Nations: Wales produce 'massive performance' against Scotland, Sexton seals late win for Ireland

Missing a raft of key players and facing a side with title ambitions, Gatland's team thrashed the visitors at the Principality Stadium.

Leigh Halfpenny dives over the line to score Wales their third try in the win over Scotland on Saturday. Paul Harding / PA
Leigh Halfpenny dives over the line to score Wales their third try in the win over Scotland on Saturday. Paul Harding / PA

Aaron Shingler hailed a "massive performance" by Wales after their an inexperienced side thrashed Scotland 34-7 in the Six Nations opener in Cardiff on Saturday.

Two tries from Leigh Halfpenny - ending a five year try drought for his country - and one each from Gareth Davies and Steff Evans gave the hosts what could turn out to be a vital bonus point in what was the 58th Test win in 98 matches for head coach Warren Gatland since taking charge 10 years ago.

Wales gave a team performance that made light of the absence of players with more than 600 caps between them, but flanker Shingler was singled out for man of the match honours

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"That was a massive performance," Shingler, 30, said. "It was one of great character especially in defence and a great start."

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, who was denied a try in the second-half by being held up on the line , said his side's outstanding performance reflected the level of opposition.

"Give credit to Scotland that was a performance borne out of respect for them," said Wyn Jones, after making his 114th appearance.

"I am particularly pleased that our guys winning either their first caps or only with a handful took their chances.

While Wales got the ideal boost for their home clash with champions England next weekend, it was a salutary experience for Scotland, who had entered the tournament with hopes of a first Six Nations title after thrashing Australia and running New Zealand close in the autumn.

Scotland captain John Barclay was non-plussed by the poor showing, which leaves Scotland without a win in Cardiff since 2002 and needing to regroup quickly to host France next weekend.

"I am speechless," said the 31-year-old flanker. "There were a lot of errors. In November we played with a lot of accuracy and tempo. Today there was tempo but not accuracy.

"We missed too many tackles, we knew Wales would be dangerous but our lineout didn't function at all, not a great recipe t win a Test match.

"It is hard to find positives, Wales were superior today and we have a lot of work to do."

Sexton seals late win for Ireland

Jonathan Sexton, centre, is hugged by teammates after kicking the match-winning drop goal against France. Thomas Samson / AFP
Jonathan Sexton, centre, is hugged by teammates after kicking the match-winning drop goal against France. Thomas Samson / AFP

Johnny Sexton's remarkable drop goal after time helped Ireland win their NatWest 6 Nations opener 15-13 against France in Paris.

Trailing 13-12 thanks to a Teddy Thomas try, Ireland kept their heads through 41 phases of play in order to open up a window for Sexton.

And the fly-half, who scored all of Ireland's points on the night, duly obliged from just inside the France half to earn Ireland the win.

Ireland full-back Rob Kearney hailed the dramatic finish and Sexton's last-gasp drop goal.

"It's quite incredible really. We probably got out of jail a little bit," the 31-year-old said. "To build that amount of phases, to keep the ball - the conditions are awful - and then the stones on Johnny at the end was incredible.

"I thought it (the drop goal) was a little short. It went in slow motion and it just crept over. We knew it was the last play. He ran off celebrating and we all went along. It was unbelievably special."

Match-winner Sexton said: "I'm just happy I got another chance. In the last moment something caught my eye and just happy to get another chance to get victory for the boys.

"We've worked so hard for the last two weeks and it's great to be in the position we are now after an away win."

When asked what he thought of before kicking the winning goal, the fly-half said: "I went back to many years ago when we played Treviso away and I was in an almost identical position and just flashed back to that. Just got there in the end."

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