Scotland 24(17) – (8)25 Wales
Six Nations 2021, Rnd 2
Scotland lost by a point to Wales having to play over half an hour with ten men after Zander Fagerson was shown a red card.
Referee Matthew Carley sent Fagerson off before the hour for leading with his shoulder in trying to clear out the ruck.
The game swung one way then the other with seven tries scored in a pulsating game.
Wales picked up the bonus point scoring four tries at Murrayfield.
Two tries each were scored by the outstanding Stuart Hogg for Scotland and Lou Rees-Zammit for Wales.
It’s a good result for Wales who avenge losing in Llanelli against the Scots last time out. The Welsh have won two games in this year’s tournament beating Ireland in their opening match.
Scotland will be disappointed having had their tales up after the historic win over England last week. The Scots have now won one lost won.
First half: Magic from Price, not Russell
Even after Scotland’s victory over England, and with the Scot’s tails up, Wales deserved a healthy does of respect on a snowy evening in Edinburgh.
Wales have won twelve of the last fourteen encounters between the sides and not lost twice in a row to the Scots since 2003. So it wasn’t surprising that the Welsh got the first points on the board. A Leigh Halfpenny penalty was won after good work by the Welsh pack, with 12 phases of possession in front of the Scot’s 22.
England’s ill discipline last week may have rubbed off on the Scots. Scotland gave away three penalties within four minutes in a match overseen by a referee – Matthew Carley – who is notorious for being strict.
The opening scrum had barely touched before Carley blew for the first penalty of the match.
Wales were on the wrong end of this disciplinarian as well, conceding a penalty by Alun Wyn Jones not rolling away from the breakdown. Russell duly converted.
Wales’ captain is a metronome of test rugby – today was Jones’ 144th cap. However even with his experience Jones was penalised again minutes later for diving in off his feet. Scotland lost the preceding lineout but managed to regain possession. It was the stumbling, bulldozer effort of Jonny Gray that set the Scots up in front of the Welsh 22 to score their first try.
Having seen the ball chipped over the top, it was instantly assumed Russell had worked his magic to set up Darcy Graham, however it was Ali Price with the deft kick that allowed Graham to charge in under the posts.
Graham was one of three changes Townsend had to make along with Jamie Richie and Cameron Redpath missing out – the latter making an outstanding debut at Twickenham last weekend.
Wales are in a period of transition at the moment and look unsure of their identity having seemingly forgotten their invincible Grand Slam winning persona they exuded under Gatland.
After a slow start Scotland had the territory and possession as well as the stronger scum which told midway through the half.
It was both textbook and magic from the Scots. They retained the ball with ease in the scrum forty metres from Wales’ touchline then, with navy almost confused for black, Scotland zipped the ball across the park with a rapid passing play involving Price and Russell, the ball was worked to Hogg who chased his own kick and scored.
Hogg was slightly fortunate to pick up his kick with the covering Leigh Halfpenny spilling the ball as the Welsh fullback tried to cover.
Even though Russell played with a wide smile on his face not everything went the way of the Scots.
The talismanic stand-off missed a penalty on 31’ – a defect in Russell’s game that needs to be corrected – then Blade Thompson failed an HIA meaning Gary Graham was now on at six. The Newcastle front-row’s penalty for a high tackle allowed Wales back into the game.
Wales kicked to touch, won the lineout in the Scotland 22 and worked it out to the young Lou Rees-Zammit on the opposite flank. Rees-Zammit finished like a seasoned pro – this being only his fifth cap – to pull Wales back to within nine at the half.
Second half: Wales let off the hook
The second half started going from ecstasy to agony then back to ecstasy for the Welsh.
In the space of three minutes Wales won a pen, Biggar attempted a banana kick to touch but Van der Merwe kept it in, cleared and Tomkins knocked on to give Scotland a scrum 30 metres from the Welsh end zone.
However in another twist to the tale Scotland lost the scrum and Wales could build again from the centre of the park.
It was Hamish Watson’s brilliant work in the breakdown that won the ball back for Scotland, who didn’t reward the front-row warrior like they should.
Scotland made bad decisions from this point. After getting in the Welsh 22 the Scots got a second penalty in front of the Welsh try line. Russell deferred to Hogg who chose a quick restart. Scotland then played sludge rugby, their forwards continually trying and failing to railroad the Welsh defence.
The Scots were penalised for obstruction in their final attack, Wales kicked the ball up the park and within five minutes of the second half the Welsh were back to within two, Liam Williams going over in a period of play that went so fast Carley stopped the game so everyone could recommence breathing.
Game changes with Zander Fagerson red card
The game flipped on its axis’ when Zander Fagerson was red carded for leading with his shoulder and making contact with the head in clearing out Justin Tipuric in the breakdown. Scotland would now have to play almost half an hour with 14.
The advantage told within minutes, Wyn Jones going over from the resulting penalty.
Sheedy, taking over kicking duties from Halfpenny who didn’t return for the second half after failing an HIA, missed a relatively straight forward conversion to allow Scotland within three.
Wales were next to give up penalties which resulted in Scotland again going for the big score.
On 58’ Russell kicked to touch and the Scots found themselves five metres from the Welsh try line, once again playing sludge rugby.
–Scotland Beat England At Twickenham In Their Opening Round Of Six Nations 2021: Match Report
–Last Time The Two Met: Scotland Win In Wales For The First Time In 18 Years 14-10 To Complete Their 2020 Six Nations Campaign
–Result: No Goals In Almost 8 Hours Now For Aberdeen As They Draw 0-0 With St Mirren
Hogg try after perpetual scrums
Over five minutes of scrummage ensued the Scot’s attack.
Reset after reset was called by the pernickety Carley. The only bit of excitement to break up this curmudgery was Russell trying and failing to pull off the kick to the corner trick with van der Merwe again.
Finally the ball got away and fed to Hogg who scored a captain’s try, finishing superbly in the corner, the fullback’s second of the match.
Equally superb was Russell’s conversion to put the Scots ahead by four with just over ten to go.
Rees-Zammit scores try of the game for Wales to lead by one with ten to go
Hogg excelled a minute later, this time in defence. If he hadn’t been covering the impressive Rees-Zammit after the ball made a devilish bounce to stay in play Wales would have scored again.
The Welsh winger couldn’t be denied twice. Rees-Zammit scored the try of the match, picking up the ball on the halfway line, chipping over the defence, chasing down his own kick and getting to the try line ahead of Hogg. Another minute gone, another try, another leader in the match. Wales were a point ahead with nine to play.
Scotland: 1. Sutherland (69′), 2. Turner (69′), 3. Z Fagerson (Red Card 54′), 4. Cummings, 5. J Gray, 6. Thompson (13′), 7. Watson, 8. M Fagerson, 9. Price, 10. Russell, 11. van der Merwe, 12. Lang (71′), 13. Harris, 14. Graham (58′), 15. Hogg (C)
Replacements: 16. Cherry (69′), 17. Kebble (69′), 18. Nel (58′), 19. R Gray (57′), 20. Graham (13′, 57′), 21. Steele, 22. van der Walt, 23. Jones (71′)
Tries: Graham 17′, Hogg 25′, 65′
Cons: Russell 19’, 26′, 66′
Pens: Russell 10’
Wales: 1. W Jones (78′), 2. Owens (71′), 3. Francis (63′), 4. Beard, 5. Jones(C) (71′), 6. Wainwright (63′), 7. Tipuric, 8. Faletau, 9. Davies (49′), 10. Biggar (49′), 11. Williams, 12. Tompkins, 13. Watkin, 14, Rees-Zammit, 15. Halfpenny (33′),
Replacements: 16. Dee (71′), 17. R Jones (78′), 18. Brown (63′), 19. Rowlands (71′), 20. Botham (63′), 21. Hardy (49′), 22. Sheedy (49′), 23. Halaholo (33′)
Tries: Rees-Zammit 37′, 70′, Williams 50′, Wyn Jones 55′
Cons: Sheedy 51′
Pens: Halfpenny 5′
Up next: France v Scotland, 28th Feb
Scotland take on tournament favourites France in their own backyard. Round 3 of the Six Nations, Stade de France, Paris, Sunday 28th, KO 3pm.