Wales relished the pressure, claims Jones

ALUN-WYN JONES says Wales thrived on being put under a piercing spotlight that accompanied them all the way to Edinburgh for their make-or-break clash against Scotland.

Wales’ victory — only their fourth at Murrayfield since 1985 — has kept them in the RBS 6 Nations title shake-up.

Defeat in the Scottish capital, though, would have seen a trip to Italy on February 26 gripped by a fear of potential wooden spoon status for the losers.

Wales ultimately did it the hard way, prevailing despite seeing two players sin-binned — Bradley Davies and Lee Byrne — within four minutes of each other, and having to make 137 tackles.

Jones and company had also headed north on the back of eight Tests without a win – albeit six of those against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia — which cranked up the pressure.

But the Ospreys lock said: “Usually, you are told to avoid pressure and not think about it. There was a bit of a mentality this week, though, of knowing we were under pressure and then embracing it.

“We seem to play better rugby the more under pressure we are, especially later on in games, so we said let’s embrace it from the start, and we did.

“Flippin’ heck, we play great rugby under pressure – we have done against the likes of South Africa and New Zealand.

“Yes, international rugby is a results-based game, but it was only a matter of time (before Wales won).

Warren Gatland, who will equal Alan Davies’ 35-Test record for a Wales coach in Rome, also hailed the watertight Welsh defence and his players’ resilience.

Gatland said: “The boys fronted up, and that’s what it is about in sport at the highest level.

“Whether you are a player or a coach you will come under pressure, and it’s about showing character and responding to that.

“I thought the players could have easily lacked confidence as they have been under the pump, but they continued to work really hard and front up.

However, in the opposition camp an angry Sean Lamont called for Scotland’s players to come together for a frank and open honesty session.

With matches against Ireland on February 27 and England away on March 13 to come, Scotland face the prospect of a wooden spoon play-off against Italy on March 19.

And Lamont is fed up of always coming up short, rather than challenging for the title.

He said: “It was abysmal.

“The boys need to go away and have a look at themselves.

“We need to have a closed-door session and we need to look at each other and say: ‘Guys, if you don’t want it, don’t be here. Somebody else will fill in’.

“I’m sick of having this year after year, valiant losers.”

SCOTLAND: Southwell, Walker, Ansbro, De Luca, Evans, Parks, R. Lawson, Jacobsen, Ford, Murray, Hines, Kellock, Brown, Barclay, Vernon.

Replacements: S. Lamont for Southwell (20), Blair for R. Lawson (47), S. Lawson for Ford (65), Low for Murray (47), MacLeod for Kellock (69), Rennie for Barclay (65).

WALES: Byrne, Stoddart, Roberts, J. Davies, Williams, Hook, Phillips, James, Rees, Mitchell, B. Davies, A. Jones, Lydiate, Warburton, R. Jones.

Replacements: Priestland for Byrne (71), S. Jones for Hook (65), Knoyle for Phillips (71), Yapp for James (65), Hibbard for Rees (71), Turnbull for A. Jones (71), Thomas for Lydiate (54).

Referee: G Clancy (IRFU).

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox