Impressive Wales come back to beat Scots and maintain title hopes

Impressive Wales come back to beat Scots and maintain title hopes

Wales 27 Scotland 23

Wales recorded their ninth successive victory over Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations Championship to stay firmly among this season's title contenders.

But they required tries during the last 15 minutes from centre Jamie Roberts and wing George North to subdue an impressive Scottish performance that saw the visitors lead midway through the second half.

Scrum-half Gareth Davies also touched down for Wales, courtesy of a magnificent early break, while fly-half Dan Biggar added three conversions and two penalties as Scotland's long wait for a win in Cardiff continued with a 27-23 defeat.

Impressive Wales come back to beat Scots and maintain title hopes

Outstanding wing Tommy Seymour and centre Duncan Taylor scored tries for Scotland, with skipper Greig Laidlaw adding 11 points from the boot and Duncan Weir adding a late conversion, yet they were ultimately outgunned during a game that saw them lose full-back Stuart Hogg - their sharpest attacking threat - due to a back injury.

Wales, after a draw in Dublin last weekend, will go top of the championship if they beat next opponents France, but Scotland have played two, lost two, following an opening 15-9 defeat at home to England.

While Wales went in with an unchanged team from Dublin, Scotland announced a late switch as London Irish wing Sean Maitland missed out because of hamstring trouble.

Sean Lamont moved off the bench to replace him, with Wasps fly-half Ruaridh Jackson, who had been due to feature for his Aviva Premiership club on Sunday, joining the back division substitutes alongside Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Duncan Weir.

A closed stadium roof greeted Scotland's first Cardiff visit since they were crushed by a record 51-3 margin two years ago, while Wales were led out by centre Jonathan Davies on the occasion of his 50th cap.

Impressive Wales come back to beat Scots and maintain title hopes

Scotland threatened inside 60 seconds when full-back Stuart Hogg was freed in space by a Richie Gray pass, but Wales covered well and then gained a scrum penalty after their young Scarlets props Rob Evans and Samson Lee made an immediate presence felt.

And Wales opened the scoring in spectacular fashion after seven minutes when centre Jamie Roberts knocked possession back following an aerial collision and Davies pounced from 40 metres, outpacing Scotland's defensive cover to claim a sixth try in his last seven Test appearances.

Impressive Wales come back to beat Scots and maintain title hopes

Biggar added the conversion for a 7-0 lead after as many minutes but Scotland hit back following a spell of pressure when Russell kicked cleverly into space and Seymour finished off in the corner before Laidlaw's conversion tied things up.

Scotland flanker John Barclay led a break out of the visitors' half before his kick ahead only narrowly eluded centre Mark Bennett's clutches, then a Russell touchfinder pinned Wales back in their 22.

The visitors suffered a major injury blow 11 minutes before the break when Hogg went off to be replaced by Jackson. Yet it did not unsettle them as Laidlaw kicked a long-range penalty, making it 10-7.

Although Biggar quickly wiped out the deficit with a penalty, Laidlaw accepted another chance on the stroke of half-time and Scotland deservedly held the interval advantage.

Apart from a dominant opening 10 minutes, Wales had struggled to make headway, yet they began the second period in determined fashion, and after a strong George North run that saw play taken on by lock Luke Charteris, Biggar's second successful penalty brought the home side level.

Wales boss Warren Gatland made a triple substitution after 48 minutes, sending on prop Gethin Jenkins for his 121st cap, hooker Ken Owens and lock Bradley Davies in an attempt to grasp control of the contest up front.

But Scotland regained some initiative when Wales full-back Liam Williams slipped and knocked on just outside his own 22, and the visitors gained a scrum penalty that Laidlaw landed to restore a three-point lead.

The game was threatening to open up, which Wales illustrated through wing Tom James' 60-metre break that Scotland centre Duncan Taylor halted with a brilliant cover-tackle, yet the home side had territorial control and established scrummaging control five metres out which started answering serious questions of their opponents.

Wales skipper Sam Warburton opted against taking a close-range penalty for another scrum, and the game had unquestionably arrived at a key moment, which was confirmed when Roberts smashed his way over and Biggar's conversion put Wales four points clear.

North then sealed it for Wales as the clock ticked down, although Taylor added a later try for Scotland, setting up a Cardiff showdown with unbeaten title rivals France in 13 days' time.

More on this topic

‘We have got our little wake-up call,’ says Best of Six Nations downturn‘We have got our little wake-up call,’ says Best of Six Nations downturn

McNamara’s mantra: Failure is never fatal, it’s how you react to itMcNamara’s mantra: Failure is never fatal, it’s how you react to it

Noel backs return to Cork for U20 sideNoel backs return to Cork for U20 side

Anscombe hopeful Wales can keep their winning habit going at the World CupAnscombe hopeful Wales can keep their winning habit going at the World Cup

More in this Section

Former Kildare manager Cian O’Neill becomes Cork senior football coachFormer Kildare manager Cian O’Neill becomes Cork senior football coach

England cricketer Ben Stokes blasts The Sun for ‘disgusting’ report on family tragedyEngland cricketer Ben Stokes blasts The Sun for ‘disgusting’ report on family tragedy

World Rugby open to larger World Cup squads but requests came too late for Japan 2019World Rugby open to larger World Cup squads but requests came too late for Japan 2019

The lowdown on Manchester City’s Champions League opponents Shakhtar DonestskThe lowdown on Manchester City’s Champions League opponents Shakhtar Donestsk


Lifestyle

This season textiles trend large, full of colour and exotic pattern, and applied in new ways to make a personal design statement from the living room to the bedroom, writes Carol O’CallaghanTextile trends that can help you make a personal design statement

More From The Irish Examiner