Six Nations Game 5 - Scotland vs Wales (21-9)
Scotland made the brightest start and were rewarded early on with a Chris Paterson penalty. Wales took a quick tap from a scrum infringement, and Chris Cusiter [right] was just able to save the try for Scotland. Shortly after, Marcus di Rollo nearly crossed for Scotland, but he knocked on from the intercept.
A few minutes later, Paterson incremented the scoreboard by another 3 points after a Welsh infringement.
On 20 minutes, centre Rob Dewey made an incisive break but the dark blues were eventually shrugged off by Welsh defence. Dewey was largely on his own, or Scotland might have done better. Hugo Southwell was caught holding on, and Stephen Jones [left] slotted thee points for the Welsh.
Alix Popham [right] rocketed out of a Welsh scrum, but the move ultimately led to a Scottish lineout. This was fumbled and Wales then got a lineout close to the Scottish line.
The Welsh tested the Scottish defence for a few minutes, but were not able to get through, and then Popham took a forward pass.
Scotland were given a scrum when Czekaj knocked on a high ball catch, then Scotland were into the Welsh 22. Paterson got close to the line, but it was passed wide and they were awareded a penalty. Paterson chose to opt for goal to take them to 9-3.
A messy Scottish scrum led to phases which gave Wales a second penalty, swiftly slotted over by Stephen Jones, just before the half time whistle.
The second half began with the rain coming down steadily, and the game there for the taking by either side. Tom Shanklin [right] came on after the break for James Hook who suffered a dead leg. Then Scotland got a penalty for Wales coming in from the side. Rob Sidoli was briefly forced to run around in stockinged feet when the studs came off his boot but a replacement pair were not forthcoming!
Soon after, Chris Paterson got another three points from the boot, and again after another Wales infringement. Then they were 15-6. Stephen Jones replied a few minutes later with his own penalty kick. Rhys Thomas [right] was sin-binned for coming in from the side and Paterson punted over yet another penalty to make it 18-9.
Paterson made a break with a lovely chip ahead kick, but he was hauled down 2m short of the line by Stephen Jones. The subsequent scrum saw Peel and Cusiter exchanging a few handbag swings, but Scotland won it to push hard at the Welsh line. Incidentally, Dwayne Peel [left] won his 50th cap for Wales today, and he's still only 25!
The forwards barrelled over, and it was left to the TMO to decide if the ball was grounded - his verdict - held up. The Scottish scrum was won but the player shielded himself behind the ref! The reset pushed hard again and the backs were turned over by the canny Welsh defence for a lineout. All this, with Wales still working with 14 men, but the lineout wasn't straight and Scotland won a reprieve with a scrum but could not capilalise getting any points.
Still the Scots kept coming, and still the Welsh line would not break. Suddenly a Welsh turnover saw play back in the Scottish half, having been camped in dark blue territory for most of the second half. A chip kick saw Scotland gather but Welsh hands caught them out and won a scrum.
The last ten minutes saw the ball changing hands regularly, but the scoreboard only progressed by another 3 points thanks to Chris Paterson's boot - to give a final score of 21-9. Simon Taylor got the Man Of The Match award. Scrappy, with no tries, but the Scots can be relieved to have gained their victory.
Tomorrow's game between Ireland and France, the first ever at Croke Park, promises to be a cracker. I think my money is on Ireland, despite them being without key playmakers, Peter Stringer and Brian O'Driscoll. Let's see if Les Bleus prove me wrong!
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