'It's a good sign that we can lose key players and not let it affect us'

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The Independent Online

Gone are the days when Wales would lose one of their superstars and wither in the fallout. Warren Gatland's young side saw not only their captain fantastic fall to injury but also their most potent weapon. Yet still they emerged victorious.

The paucity of back-up options was one of Gatland's chief concerns when he took over four years ago. When they were all there, Wales would turn up; but when they weren't, Wales would also go absent. Little wonder, therefore, that the Kiwi was so keen to emphasise the new-found resolution in his troops.

"It's a good sign that we can lose some key players and just keep our head and not let it affect us," said Gatland, who watched Sam Warburton fail a late fitness test on his dead leg and then saw George North hobble off before half-time with a twisted ankle. "We all know how young this team is, but there's a lot of maturity being shown in the side."

Like everyone at the Millennium Stadium, Gatland was impressed by Alex Cuthbert. The 6ft 6in wing enjoyed the finest game of his career so far as he took on North's mantle as high-speed battering ram. Born and raised in Gloucester, Cuthbert qualifies through a grandmother and Wales are mighty glad to have him. He has only played 13 games for the Blues and didn't take up rugby properly until he was 18.

"I thought Alex was very good today in attack and showed the faith that we'd given him by selecting him for the second week in succession," said Gatland. "Leigh Halfpenny has had to move around again because of George's injury but he's kicked his goals well."

The 27-13 win meant Wales move to the top of the Six Nations table and they next face England, also unbeaten from two games, in two weeks' time. Victory at Twickenham would keep Wales on course for a third Grand Slam in eight years. "There's still things to work on but we're two from two and we've got a chance at a Triple Crown by going to England in a couple of weeks, and maybe a bit more," said Gatland.

Warburton expects to recover in time and the medics will properly examine North today. "He should be OK," said Gatland. "It's only a rolled ankle."

While Gatland's mood was in contrast to an inevitably glum Andy Robinson, the Scotland coach refused to be too downbeat. "I'm proud of the way we went out and played the game," said Robinson. "We had opportunities to score before half-time and didn't; after half-time we missed the restart and Wales took their opportunities. Credit to Wales, they had chances and took them; we had chances and we didn't."

Robinson is determined to press on with the expansive style and the manner in which the Scots contributed to a thrilling second half suggests he is wise to do so. "We have three games to go and look forward to France," said Robinson. "We believe in the way we are playing. Our guys played very well today, but it wasn't enough. And because of that they are hurting."