Wales came from behind to record their first win of the Championship as they scored three tries in an entertaining game in which Scotland play a full part
Wales and Scotland played out an entertaining game in which the hosts emerged victors but only after a stern test from a pumped-up Scotland outfit. Gareth Davies got the scoring underway with an opportunist try, streaking in from 40 meters, but their lead was to last for a matter of minutes before Tommy Seymour was sent in by Finn Russell‘s cultured dink over the top of the Wales defence. Scotland were the better of the two teams in the first half, and after Laidlaw and Biggar swapped penalties, a final kick of the half gave Scotland the advantage going in at the break.
In the second-half, Scotland again started the brighter, and Laidlaw again game them the lead until the 64th minute, where after concerted pressure, Jamie Roberts crashed over. Wales were to stretch their lead to 11 points with eight minutes left on the clock as George North, put months of frustration behind him, to find a sharp line to run in from 40 metres. Last word went to Duncan Taylor who was put through a gap by Duncan Weir to go over for a fine score.
Flair is back
After a dour tournament to date, within 10 minutes, two tries had been scored to restore faith in enterprising play. First Dan Biggar‘s cute chip was flapped back – basketball style – by Jamie Roberts for Gareth Davies to streak in, and just minutes later Finn Russell’s dink over the Welsh defence was read by Tommy Seymour to dot down. With fine individual tries from North and Taylor in the second-half, it was a game to restore faith in a tournament that finally spluttered into life. Can they do it on a dank night in Cardiff in February? Yes they can.
We lost count of the amount of times the ball was sent skyward up into the lights of the Principality Stadium, but the finesse and bravery of the players collecting the balls was a delight to watch. Tommy Seymour, Stuart Hogg and Dan Biggar were all seen taking flight and regathering the ball, with little though of their safety. It’s become an arresting sight in games and despite the obvious risks, we hope it continues.
Jamie Roberts rolling back the years
With his gifted rival at 12, Scott Williams expected back in April, Jamie Roberts is consolidating his No 12 shirt with some match defining displays. In many people’s eyes, Roberts was very unfortunate to not to pick up the Man of the Match award in Ireland after a hugely physical but there was no doubting his impact at the Principality Stadium. His try in the 64th minute was typical Roberts, powering over from short range for his 10th Wales try. Then on 76 minutes he showed his power, hitting Blair Cowan so hard that he had to leave the field. It’s turning into a vintage tournament for ‘the Doc’.
Wales’ width is a work in progress
In the first-half, George North and Tom James were virtual bystanders and the ball refused to make it to the wide channels. Much has been made of Wales’ intent to play a more expansive game but it’s clearly taking time to manufacture a new playing style. In the last quarter there were promising signs, as Scottish legs tired and Wales were able to fashion more openings in the wide channels.
Scotland inability to finish the job
Vern Cotter‘s men were good value for their lead until the 62nd minute. They had the better of the aerial exchanges and created more linebreaks. However, Wales’ were still able to win to conspire the Scots to a ninth consecutive Six Nations loss. The Welsh bench made a difference – bringing on a 121-cap prop and British & Irish Lion helps – and by the time North streaked over, Scotland were 11 points down. Their defence didn’t help only a 79% success rate. Until Cotter’s men can play the ’80 minute game’, they will continue to fill the role of plucky losers.
Over zealous celebrating winning a scrum penalty
It’s a modern trend that when a side wins a scrum penalty, the whole team trots over clapping their hands and slapping players on the backside in an elaborate manner. Both sides were at it at the Principality Stadium. Whether this serves to dishearten the opposition or rile them into action is a moot point. This curmudgeonly writer is not a fan.
Wales shaded metres run with 359 metres to Scotland’s 347
Wales beat 15 defenders compared to Scotland’s 8
Wales made 94 of their 102 tackles, a success rate of 92%, while Scotland only made 57 of 72 tackles, a success rate of 79 per cent
George North was the game’s top carrier with 106 metres carried, Tom James was second with 89 and Liam Williams third with 62
Taulupe Faletau was the game’s top tackler with 13, followed by Sam Warburton with 12. Jamie Roberts and Alun Wyn Jones had 11 each
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Man of the Match: Jamie Roberts
Try Gareth Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North
Con: Dan Biggar (3)
Pen: Dan Biggar (2)
Try: Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor
Con: Greig Laidlaw (2)
Pens: Greig Laidlaw (3)
Wales team: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Tom James (Gareth Anscombe 65); Dan Biggar (Rhys Priestland 75), Gareth Davies; Rob Evans (Gethin Jenkins 48), Scott Baldwin (Ken Owens 48), Samson Lee (Tom Francis 68), Luke Charteris (Bradley Davies 48), Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton (C), Justin Tipuric (Dan Lydiate 61), Taulupe Faletau
Unused replacement: Lloyd Williams
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Ruaridh Jackson 28); Sean Lamont, Mark Bennett, Duncan Taylor, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell (Duncan Weir 68), Greig Laidlaw (Sam Hidalgo-Clyne 77); Alasdair Dickinson (Gordon Reid 65), Ross Ford (Stuart McInally 65), WP Nel, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray (Tim Swinson 68), John Barclay (Blair Cowan 65), John Hardie, David Denton.
Unused replacement: Zander Fagerson,