Six Nations: Scotland 29-13 Wales
Scotland came from behind to produce a stirring second-half performance at they defeated Wales for the first time in a decade
In a nutshell
Wales were convincingly beaten by a stirring Scotland second-half performance left the Murrayfield masses on their feet well after the final whistle. After trailing 13-9 in the first-half, where they were second-best to Wales, they ran up 20 unanswered points to register their first win Wales in a decade in a performance. Second-half tries from Tommy Seymour and Tim Visser pulled Scotland clear, and an obdurate defence stopped Wales registering a point in the second-half, stealing turnovers, nicking lineouts and punishing Welsh mistakes as they chased the game. Wales will be left to rue the lack of a clinical edge as they fell well short.
Scotland struggled to match Wales in a structured set-piece game in the first-half and profited far more when the game broke up. Early in the second-half, after Leigh Halfpenny had uncharacteristically dropped a kick-off, Scotland pounced, running a neat midfield move, and moving the ball was moved wide for Seymour to streak in in the corner. Tim Visser was another to capitalise from playing what was in front of them as a deft Stuart Hogg offload in the wide channels made Wales pay and took them clear.
Finn Russell underlines his Lions credentials
After being lampooned for knocking his kick under the goalposts out in Paris, Finn Russell – in the absence of the hugely influential Greig Laidlaw – took on the kicking duties. He put in a brilliant all-round performance, kicking 19 points, with a number of difficult penalty kicks from wide angles and also managed the game adroitly, kicking to the corners, and probing and prodding the Wales gainline and looking to put the bigger ball-carriers through the gaps. With a watching Warren Gatland in the crowd, his outshining of opposite number Dan Biggar will have been noted.
Wales take a leaf from England’s book
Early on, Wales kept up their intensity from the England game and their try after 22 minutes was a perfect example of simple execution. Rhys Webb caught Scotland defence napping and quick hands the ball was worked 50 metres crossfield – in a manner not dissimilar to the way Elliot Daly had scored against them – to leave Liam Williams with a simple run-in. Sadly for Rob Howley’s men that was the highlight of their game.
The Scottish weather
Okay, not a sentence you’d usually see written but having spent numerous winter evenings thawing out in a hostelry after losing all sensation in your fingers, Edinburgh was positively balmy. This led to open, free-flowing game days after Storm Doris has lashed the UK.
Wales rue missed opportunities
Wales did have their chance to score. When Jonathan Davies hit a sweet line and bore down on the Scotland try-line early in the second-half, he was hauled short with yards to go. He popped the ball up to Rhys Webb but the ball went through his fingers, missing a certain try. Later in the second-half, Webb impudently picked up a loose ball on the touchline and came within inches of scoring and a late Luke Charteris line-break deep in the Scotland half again ended in being turned over. Small margins, of course, but they hurt Wales.
Wales use of the bench too conservative
With Wales failing to register a point in the second-half, it was only after Tim Visser skipped over to score a try with 17 minutes left that Rob Howley send on Sam Davies, with his task to save the game for Wales. Wales were already 13 points down Wales trying to force the game, and unenforced errors were made as the game slipped away from them. With Jamie Roberts brought on to take contact it all seemed predictable and Scotland sucked up Welsh pressure and kicked two penalties to make the game safe. It was too little too late for a shell-shocked Wales side.
Scotland make a sleepy start to the game
With key men missing, Scotland needed Murrayfield to be turned into a cauldron from the off, but their inability to gain any meaningful territory or possession didn’t stir the crowd for long periods of the first-half. A missed penalty by Leigh Halfpenny and three points on the cusp of half-time from Russell kept Scotland in touch. Whatever Vern Cotter said behind closed doors at the break worked and Scotland put in a sensational second-half performance that will be celebrated into the early hours.
Tries: Tommy Seymour, Tim Visser
Conversions: Finn Russell (2)
Penalties: Finn Russell (5)
Tries: Liam Williams
Conversions: Leigh Halfepenny
Penalties: Leigh Halfpenny (2)
Wales carried marginally further with 330m carried to Scotland’s 302
Scotland beat 14 defenders to Wales’ 13, and made six clean breaks to Wales’ five
Wales completed 89 per cent of their tackles, to Scotland’s 83 per cent
Rhys Webb (73), Jonanthan Davies (67) and Liam Williams carried furthest, with Tim Visser, Scotland’s best carrier with Huw Jones (44)
Sam Warburton was the game’s top tackler with 15, followed by Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric on 13. John Barclay and Ryan Wilson made 10.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, Alistair Price; Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, John Hardie, Ryan Wilson.
Reps: Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Tim Swinson, Hamish Watson, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty
Reps: Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith, Samson Lee, Luke Charteris, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Sam Davies, Jamie Roberts.