ON first reflection, a draw away against the winners of the previous two Six Nations Championships is not a result to be sneered at.
However, on closer inspection, Wales failed to beat an Irish side riddled with injuries, including to key players such as Sean O’Brien, Cian Healey and Rob Kearney.
The Championship is still a real possibility for Gatland’s side, who have overcome greater odds in the past to be crowned champions. However, Wales have already kissed goodbye to two potential trophies, with the Grand Slam and triple-crown gone after one round of fixtures.
Prior to kick off last weekend, there had been suggestions from members of the Welsh management that Gatland may look for his player’s to play wider than they have in the past.
Gatland’s boys attempted to go wide early on against the Irish, with there being a sense that Wales attempted to stray a little too much from what had served them well in previous championships.
During the New Zealander’s reign, the Welsh management have often been criticised for prioritising the gain-line over exploiting space out wide.
Welsh sides of yesteryear would have been more comfortable with moving the ball wide, than playing a direct game.
This current crop of players’ unfamiliarity with a wider game was no more evident than against the Irish.
Sunday’s draw with Ireland saw the Welsh pack demonstrate their usual strength, with the away side enjoying 51% of possession, and 55% of territory.
Despite these favourable statistics, the visitors failed to make one clear line break all game, and this after making over 200 passes.
The challenge for the Welsh this weekend will be combining their set piece and all-round forward power with a far more clinical performance behind the scrum.
I expect Wales to revert to type against a Scottish side smarting from an opening round defeat to old rivals England.
Warren Gatland was at pains to emphasise that Irish stand-off Johnny Sexton was only forced to make two tackles last weekend.
Whereas if Wales had stuck within their ‘pattern’ they would have forced him to make between 10 to 12 tackles.
Scotland will be tough to break down, with their decision to select two fetchers in their back-row a deliberate ploy to slow the Welsh attack down.
But if Wales can dominate the Scottish pack physically, then Wales should grind out a hard fought, yet ugly, win.