Six Nations Game 4 - Wales vs Scotland (30-15)
The game started with a furious first ten minutes, plenty of action but no points, until 12 mins when Wales caught with penalty and Dan Parks made it 0-3. A wayward Scottish kick 2 mins later landed in the large paws of Mike Philips, who made a great break, passed out to the wing for Shane Williams [left] to make a lovely sidestep and score. James Hook converted, Wales were ahead 7-3.
Nathan Hines was binned for a flail at Lee Byrne and the Scots lost one of their talismans for 10 minutes. Wales botched a scrum 5m out form the Scottlish line, Mike Blair disrupting to get the next feed. The Scots survived with 14 men without shipping any points, but their lineout was looking shakey with throws not straight.
Wales squandered another chance on 26 minutes, with Gavin Henson passing to Tom Shanklin, then Shane Williams, but Shanklin's pass was forward with the line backoning.
After Hines came back on, the Scots almost immediately gave away a penalty, Hook took the shot straight through for 10-3 lead. But just after the half hour, Chris Paterson punted over a penatly for himself, to claw back 3 points, 10-6, which is where they went in at half time.
As the second half began, Scotland started well, with Ally Hogg making a blistering run up the middle from lineout ball. John Barclay went to ground and Wales were penalised at the ruck, so Paterson punted another; 100% record, clawing back another three points, 10-9.
Then the Welsh woke up, got within 5 metres of the line via Jamie Roberts, and the recycled ball came back to James Hook who sidestepped two Scottish forwards and dived over for a score. He converted his own try to make it 17-9. The Welsh looked dangerous again, but were caught killing the ball during a Scottish attack; Paterson did the honours to bring them in touch at 17-12.
Then Martyn Williams broke up midfield and the Welsh were on the attack, but his pass to Mike Philips [right] was intercepted by a blue shirt and Scotland were out of danger for the moment. Ian Gough was pinged for shoulder charging in a tackle, so the metronomic boot of Paterson kicked again and they were back into the game at 17-15.
Despite playing well, Hook was subbed at 57 minutes by Stephen Jones, who's first touch of the ball was a forward pass! In the 64th minute, Wales were pushing the Scots line again, they got within 5 metres and Scotland gave away a penalty, so Jones redeemed himself a little with another 3 points straight in front of the posts, to pull ahead to 20-15.
The Welsh voices were on song again a few minutes later when Shane Williams blistered up the wing and just dabbed the ball down before hitting the corner flag - the video ref didn't take long to decide, but the commentators weren't 100% convinced as the slo-mo replay appeared to show his foot grazing the line before he touched down. Jones converted and Scotland were trailing by 12 points, 27-15.
With only nine minutes left, Wales went further ahead from Jones' boot, and they were up to 30-15. But with 2 minutes on the clock, Scotland won a scrum on the Welsh 22, and the forwards inched towards the line. A red line of defence held firm. As the seconds ticked down, the blue shirts were within a metre and the kept pushing, then Wales turned the ball over. The final few seconds gone, the clock went red and the whistle blew.
This week, the Welsh looked more convincing than last time round, Scotland less so. Progress for the boys in red, but Hadden's men must be wondering what they can do to improve. I suggest throwing some straight lineouts for a start!