Scotland vs Wales, Sun, 15/02/2015 - 15:00

Scotland
23 - 26
Full time
Wales
Sunday, 15 February, 2015 - 15:00 | Murrayfield

 

Scotland (10) 23-26 (16) Wales

Where do we begin in analysing a game full of movement, liberally spiced with controversy, which ended with Wales the victors at BT Murrayfield this afternoon, thus extending their unbeaten record against Scotland to eight games?

Scotland, who contributed so much to the contest, remain pointless in the RBS 6 Nations Championship as Wales bounced back from their opening round defeat by England.

Scotland will now welcome Italy to BT Murrayfield at the end of this month which captain Greig Laidlaw cites as a “massive” game.

“We’re getting better as a team, becoming stronger but we need to get a result,” he said.

“Small margins,” has been the mantra in international rugby for many a year but we saw it so painfully from a Scottish perspective this afternoon.

Captain Greig Laidlaw may have wormed his way over for a try before half-time but New Zealand referee Glen Jackson, making his Six Nations debut, ruled otherwise, blew for half-time and did not consult the TMO. Subsequent TV replays proved he was right.

More frustrating from a home perspective was Mr Jackson’s thinking in the 74th minute.

He ruled out a try from the admirable Mark Bennett – who had tracked in support – and brought play back for a high tackle penalty by Rhys Webb on Sam Hidalgo Clyne, who had made a slashing break from Stuart Hogg’s pass.

Mr Jackson appeared to rule that the ball had gone forward – TV replays did not confirm this – so the first question would be why he chose not to verify the action through the TMO?

Then the second question: if he was coming back for the penalty, were there grounds for a penalty try and a yellow card for Rhys Webb as the last defender – the precedent being Steve Walsh officiating at South Africa v Wales during the summer?

We had a Welsh try ruled out after consultation involving assistant referee George Clancy and TMO Simon McDowell when Rob Harley was taken out of the Scotland defensive line by blocking ahead of the ball by Alun Wynn Jones.

We also had long periods of the game where Wales dominated territory and we saw moments where Scotland lacked composure inside the Welsh 22 to benefit from the quality of their lead-up play.

Vern Cotter’s frustration at the end of the game was of the smouldering variety and neither he nor Laidlaw would be drawn at the post-match media chat on the refereeing.

“Things improved from Paris, which is encouraging and there are still things we need to work on, including our positioning for high balls and our composure,” he reflected.

Match report...

To the match then and Wales took the first opportunity to score when Blair Cowan conceded a soft penalty at a ruck just inside his 22. Leigh Halfpenny goaled (0-3, 6 mins).

Wales had been dominating possession but Scotland struck with a clinical turnover.

Alex Dunbar made a pulverising tackle on Alex Cuthbert and Finn Russell stripped the ball clear.

He fed Stuart Hogg and he out-paced the Welsh and romped in from 70 metres, without having to use the supporting Tim Visser.

Laidlaw converted (7-3, 10 mins).

Scotland were playing with a pleasing zip and a Russell/Alex Dunbar combine almost uncorked Mark Bennett but a Scotland score was not long delayed as from a driving maul off a Richie Gray lineout take, Wales infringed at the breakdown and Laidlaw landed the penalty (10-3, 16 mins).

Halfpenny’s brilliant high ball take and offload to Rhys Webb looked to have brought Wales back into the game but Hogg then showed his defensive mettle with a saving tackle.  Scotland were penalised in the subsequent phases and Halfpenny pulled back three points (10-6, 20 mins).

Wales twice opted for the touchline from penalties, once from close-range, but Scotland’s defence was sound, though the game continued largely in home territory at this juncture.

Russell was yellow carded after he was ruled to have taken his opposite number Biggar in the air as he caught a high ball.  Halfpenny was on target (10-9, 31 mins).

Short-handed Scotland conceded a turnover as Cowan spilled ball in the Welsh 22. Wales first attacked right and Cuthbert was held but then moved ball wide left and Rhys Webb seized the scoring pass to cross for his second try in successive weekends.

Halfpenny converted (10-16, 34 mins).

Under law, referee Jackson was probably right to sin bin Wales centre Jonathan Davies in the 35th minute for challenging Johnnie Beattie under a high ball, but this als seemed a tough call.

Scotland sought to capitalise with a thumping 30 metre driving maul off a Richie Gray lineout take but they were thwarted by a Wales collapse.

Again, they opted for the touchline and launched a wave of attacks with Hogg stepping in bewitching fashion but Laidlaw was denied in the north-east corner.

Half-time: Scotland 10-16 Wales

Scotland, who had not enjoyed much rub of the green from Mr Jackson in the first period, received three penalties in the first three minutes of the half and from the third – in the aftermath of Dunbar’s tackle on Roberts – Laidlaw narrowed the gap to three points (13-16, 43 mins).

Scotland were done for slipping binding at a scrum inside their 22 and Halfpenny notched his fourth penalty. (13-19, 48 mins).

The penalty ping-pong continued with Laidlaw connecting sweetly from beyond the 10-metre line (16-19, 53 mins).

Wales countered again and from a lineout catch and drive, Liam Williams was released to cross the whitewash but Harley was taken out by Alun Wyn Jones and, after consultation with the TMO, the try was ruled out and Scotland were awarded a penalty just shy of the hour mark.

Wales, however, continued to be on the front foot and although Halfpenny endured his first penalty miss from 10-metre line range, the second visitors’ try materialised as Jonathan Davies crowned a sustained attack by evading Matt Scott’s tackle and then selling a dummy to Stuart Hogg.

Halfpenny converted (16-26, 64 mins).

Substitute prop Gordon Reid who had only been on the field three minutes departed injured meaning that Dickinson returned.

Roared on by the full-house Scotland tried manfully to engineer a dramatic finale. Whether the Hidalgo-Clyne/Bennett episode had finished differently, it’s a moot point what would have unfolded thereafter.

As it was, Scotland manufactured a try in the 79th minute, Jon Welsh, on his first international appearance at BT Murrayfield, burrowing in for the score. Finn Russell converted, his first points for Scotland with seconds left on the clock (23-26).

That was it, however, as Mr Jackson blew for full-time meaning Wales did not have to restart.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Lamont, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar (all Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby); Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) captain; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford (both Edinburgh Rugby), Geoff Cross (London Irish), Richie Gray (Castres), Jonny Gray, Rob Harley (both Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish) and Johnnie Beattie (Castres). Subs: Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors) for Cross (49mins), Jim Hamilton (Saracens) for Richie Gray (56 mins), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) for Beattie (58 mins), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) for Dunbar (58 mins), Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) for Dickinson (61 mins – Dickinson returned in 64 mins), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby) for Laidlaw and Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) for Ford (both 71 mins). Unused: Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby)

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton captain, Toby Faletau. Subs: Scott Baldwin for Hibbard, Luke Charteris for Ball and Scott Andrews for Jarvis (all 60 mins); Justin Tipuric for Lydiate (61 mins), Paul James for Jenkins ((71 mins), Mike Phillips for Webb (74 mins). Unused: Rhys Priestland and Scott Williams.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

RBS Man of the Match: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales).

Team lineups

Scotland
Wales

Backs

15 Leigh Halfpenny
14 Alex Cuthbert
13 Jonathan Davies
12 Jamie Roberts
11 Liam Williams
10 Dan Biggar
9 Rhys Webb

Forwards

1 Gethin Jenkins
2 Richard Hibbard
3 Aaron Jarvis
4 Jake Ball
5 Alun Wyn Jones
6 Dan Lydiate
7 Sam Warburton
8 Taulupe Faletau

Substitutes

16 Scott Baldwin
17 Paul James
18 Scott Andrews
19 Luke Charteris
20 Justin Tipuric
21 Mike Phillips
22 Rhys Priestland
23 Scott Williams

RBS 6 Nations Championship 2015 table

PosTeamPWLDPts
1Ireland54108
2England54108
3Wales54108
4France52304
5Italy51402
6Scotland50500

RBS 6 Nations Championship 2015 latest results

England 55 v 35 France
Scotland 10 v 40 Ireland
Italy 20 v 61 Wales
Italy 0 v 29 France
England 25 v 13 Scotland