Wales end losing streak against poor Scotland

Scotland 6 Wales 24

Scotland 6 Wales 24

Wales ended their eight-Test winless streak with a fourth successive RBS 6 Nations victory over Scotland at Murrayfield orchestrated by James Hook.

Fly-half Hook kicked 14 points and set up Shane Williams’ first-half try before the Ospreys winger scored his 53rd try in 77 Tests in the second half following Jonathan Davies’ kick through.

Bradley Davies and Lee Byrne were sin-binned within four minutes of each other in the first half, but Scotland’s only points in an error-strewn display came through two Dan Parks penalties.

Richie Gray failed to recover from illness forcing Scotland to make a late change to their starting XV as they went in search of a first victory of the 2011 RBS 6 Nations against Wales.

Gray missed training yesterday due to a stomach upset and was unable to take his place in the team named on Wednesday by head coach Andy Robinson, who this week signed a contract extension until December 2015.

A forward pack reshuffle saw Nathan Hines move into the second row alongside captain Alastair Kellock, who led out Scotland for the fourth occasion but for the first time at Murrayfield.

Kelly Brown moved to blindside flanker and number eight Richie Vernon was promoted from the bench, with second row Scott MacLeod named among the substitutes.

MacLeod and replacement hooker Scott Lawson were the only changes to the matchday 22 from last week’s 34-21 loss to France in Paris as Scotland went in search of a sixth win in eight Tests and a first victory over Wales since 2007.

Warren Gatland, who this week admitted his job situation as Wales head coach is precarious, made three changes to the starting XV which suffered a 26-19 loss to England last Friday.

James Hook took over from Stephen Jones at fly-half, with Lee Byrne coming in at full-back and Ryan Jones lining up at number eight in place of the injured Andy Powell.

Wing Morgan Stoddart passed a fitness test yesterday and started despite suffering a broken bone in his hand against England.

Much was made of Hook's switch from full-back to number 10 for the first time since 2009, with the selection suggesting a more expansive game plan.

But the Ospreys ace kicked the early ball he received and it was Scotland who looked to spread the ball through the hands.

But after Paul James charged down a Dan Parks clearance 30 metres out, Wales won the resulting scrum against the head.

Scotland’s scrum struggled in Paris and again it floundered with Ryan Jones picking up and putting the hosts under pressure.

Hook then orchestrated the attack and bided his time before scything through a gap – prop Allan Jacobsen missing a tackle and Rory Lawson’s dive in vain – and popping the ball to wing Shane Williams to score his 52nd try in 77 Tests.

Hook converted for the visitors to take a 7-0 lead after nine minutes.

A Lawson knock-on on Scotland’s own 10-metre line again handed possession to Wales.

Hook fed Roberts, who was tackled before Wales won a penalty for Scotland going in from the side at a ruck.

Wales opted for goal and Hook extended the advantage to 10 points with a 14th-minute penalty.

Wales won another penalty when referee George Clancy deemed Scotland had killed the ball at a ruck and Hook made it three goals from three attempts.

Hugo Southwell was penalised for taking Byrne out in the air, but came off worse with a boot to the face and went off for treatment.

Sean Lamont came on as a blood replacement.

Brown was penalised in front of the posts and Scotland were given a final warning by Clancy.

Hook struck his third penalty to take his personal tally to 11 points.

Lamont collected a Scotland high ball and weaved through the Wales defence before being stopped five metres out.

Bradley Davies was offside at the breakdown and earned a yellow card, handing Scotland an extra man for 10 minutes.

Byrne then chopped down Max Evans with a high tackle after 27 minutes and joined Davies in the bin, leaving Wales to defend with 13 men for six minutes.

Scotland laid siege on the visitors’ line, but the ball was turned over after Dan Lydiate’s tackle on Brown five metres out.

Cardiff Blues fly-half Parks opted for goal after Craig Mitchell was penalised at the ruck and reduced the arrears to 13 points.

Brown palmed down Parks’ cross-kick and Lamont, now a permanent replacement for Southwell, took Scotland to five metres out.

The ball was spread wide but Joe Ansbro took his eye off a pass and Wales were saved by another Scotland error.

Bradley Davies returned and Byrne followed soon after, with Wales having conceded just three points in their time in the sin-bin.

Parks missed a long-range penalty as Wales took a 13-point lead at the break and appeared on course to end their woeful run.

John Barclay burst through two tackles before the ball slipped from his grasp and Scotland struggled to make inroads into a Wales defence, epitomised by Mike Phillips' powerful hit on Jacobsen which propelled the prop backwards.

From the resulting scrum, Scotland’s Euan Murray was penalised and Hook went for goal from the halfway line.

However, the kick fell short.

Scotland made changes, with Moray Low replacing Murray and Mike Blair on for Lawson.

Scotland attempted the direct route, punching holes through the middle of the Wales defence, but the visitors held firm.

A Parks cross-kick – designed to put Nikki Walker in an aerial battle with his Ospreys team-mate Williams – was won by the Wales winger in his own goal area as Scotland fell short again.

Lydiate made way for Jonathan Thomas and the hosts were soon defending their own goal-line.

Alun-Wyn Jones’ indiscretion at the breakdown allowed Parks to alleviate the pressure by clearing up field.

Parks cut the deficit with a penalty with 20 minutes remaining.

After Barclay had spilled a pass out wide with Scotland having an overlap, the hosts were soon under pressure again following another error.

Lamont hauled down Roberts with a try-saving tackle after the centre had burst 50 metres having received a loose ball inside his own half.

Hook then restored the visitors’ 13-point advantage with a penalty before Stephen Jones replaced him.

Scotland brought Scott Lawson on for Ross Ford at hooker and replaced Barclay with Ross Rennie.

But Wales soon went further ahead, Williams latching onto Jonathan Davies’ kick through for a comfortable score.

Stephen Jones missed the conversion, but Wales had an 18-point lead with 10 minutes remaining.

MacLeod replaced Kellock for Scotland, and Josh Turnbull and Rhys Priestland were among the visitors’ replacements, making their debuts.

Wales, though, remained determined in defence and claimed a third win in their last four trips to Edinburgh.

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