Scotland 21 - Wales 9
Scotland claimed a well deserved victory over Wales in their first home match of the RBS 6 Nations today in a game which may have lacked tries but certainly made up for it in action, passion and atmosphere. Both teams' captains, Chris Paterson and Stephen Jones were the points scorers - Paterson successfully kicking 7goals from 7 attempts - but it was the Scotland flanker Simon Taylor who won the RBS Man of the Match award on his 50th Test cap for Scotland.
Scotland 21 - Wales 9
Scotland claimed a well deserved victory over Wales in their first home match of the RBS 6 Nations in a game which may have lacked tries but certainly made up for it in action, passion and atmosphere.
Both teams’ captains, Chris Paterson and Stephen Jones, were the points scorers - Paterson successfully kicking 7goals from 7 attempts, the highest penalty success for a Scot in the championship - but it was flanker Simon Taylor who won the RBS Man of the Match award on his 50th Test cap for Scotland.
Paterson said: “That was a hard fought game. We fought out a win with a young and relatively inexperienced side but we knew the win would come and I am immensely proud of the team."
The Scots showed substantially more urgency in their play and a hunger in attack than in previous games, giving them the majority of both possession and territory - a statistic which could usually not be claimed for most of their recent matches against top opposition.
Their readiness to keep the ball in hand and run at the Welsh in attack and their ability to close them down quickly in defence gave the home side the upper hand throughout the majority of the game.
Scotland coach Frank Hadden said: “We were the better side on the day. There was only one side looked likely to score tries and that was us. There’s more to come from this side and I’m really proud of the performance today. It was a well balanced side and the win will be good for their confidence."
Paterson claimed first points when after a high-paced start he slotted the first of his seven goal attempts. It was not until after those first three points were on the board that Wales enjoyed their first period of sustained possession.
Indeed, shortly after, it was Wales that had the first real chance of a try when back row forward Ryan Jones galloped towards the line However, Scotland’s battling scrum half, Chris Cusiter, hauled Jones down just short of the line and Wales were penalized for not releasing the ball.
That attempt 12 minutes into the game was in the end the closest Wales came to scoring a try as the Scots’ blanket defence worked a treat in diffusing the dangerous running of the Welsh backs and powerful forwards.
Just a minute later, Scotland were tremendously unlucky not to cross for the try when Marcus Di Rollo intercepted a Welsh pass as they were running the ball out of their 22 but he only managed to get fingertips to it and the ball was knocked on.
The majority of the pressure for the first quarter of the game seemed to be all Scotland. Some little slips here and there were frustrating but understandable with the game being played at such a high pace.
Paterson added another three points before Wales responded through a Stephen Jones penalty and even at this relatively early stage in the game, the Scotland supporters had done their team proud with a volume of singing and chanting that Murrayfield has not heard in a fair while.
They even drowned out the usually vocal Welsh faithful.
Wales kept apace with Scotland on the pitch though, the return of Mark Jones to the side after his absence last week made a difference to their defence, as Hugo Southwell would testify when Jones almost cut him in half in a thundering tackle which floored the fullback temporarily.
Alix Popham also had a good showing, disrupting the ball around the edges of the set piece but Scotland’s pressure defence, hardly allowing the Welsh any space to run at them, paid off and the home side went into the break 9-6 ahead through another penalty a-piece.
Scotland’s set piece was strong throughout the game - prompting Wales coach Gareth Jenkins to say afterwards: “Scotland chucked the kitchen sink at us today. They came out of the blocks like a side on a mission. Here, on their day, they’re as good as any. Our lineout fractured under pressure and having 30% of the game isn’t enough to play off."
Tries looked to be on the cards for Scotland as they had several periods of sustained pressure near the Welsh try line. First replacement prop Allan Jacobsen looked to be over the line as he twisted and turned to ground the ball.
Referee Alan Lewis went to the Television Match Official, Rob Debney, for the decision. The replays showed Jacobsen with the ball, then at another angle, replacement lock Nathan Hines seemed to have his hands on the ball (and a big smile on his face) but in the end, Wales sub Tom Shanklin had managed to get himself in between the ball and the ground .
As the resulting five metre scrum was set, the Scottish crowd went absolutely wild with an immense volume of support for the team, willing them to drive forward. The ball made its way out along the line until centre Rob Dewey, who had made a number of impressive breaks earlier in the game, made another midfield dash from the breakdown and was under the posts and over the try line, but in his dash for the whitewash, he’d bumped into the referee and was therefore called back for the penalty.
He was frustrated to say the least but Captain Chris kept the scoreboard ticking over with his kicks (and Jones added one more too).
Wales did not back off their game and kept the pressure on but Scotland kept their attacks contained and sealed the victory with a final Paterson penalty bringing the final score to Scotland 21 Wales 9.
3-0: Chris Paterson penalty (4 mins)
6-0: Chris Paterson penalty (17 mins)
6-3: Stephen Jones penalty (23 mins)
9-3: Chris Paterson penalty (35 mins)
9-6: Stephen Jones penalty (38 mins)
12-6: Chris Paterson penalty (47 mins)
15-6: Chris Paterson penalty (50 mins)
15-9: Stephen Jones penalty (53 mins)
Rhys Thomas sin binned (56 mins)
18-9: Chris Paterson penalty (57 mins)
21-9: Chris Paterson penalty (77 mins)
Hugo Southwell, Sean Lamont (Walker 69 mins), Marcus Di Rollo, Rob Dewey, Chris Paterson (capt), Phil Godman (Webster 69 mins), Chris Cusiter (Lawson 73 mins), Gavin Kerr (Jacobsen 55 mins), Dougie Hall (Ford 67 mins), Euan Murray, James Hamilton (Nathan Hines 48 mins), Scott Murray, Simon Taylor, Kelly Brown (Hogg 55 mins), David Callam.
Ross Ford, Allan Jacobsen, Nathan Hines, Allister Hogg, Rory Lawson, Simon Webster, Nikki Walker.
Kevin Morgan (Sweeney 45 - 51 mins), Mark Jones, Jamie Robinson, James Hook (Shanklin 40 mins), Chris Czekaj; Stephen Jones (capt), Dwayne Peel; Duncan Jones (Jenkins 58 mins), Rhys Thomas (Rees 66 mins), Adam Jones, Robert Sildoli (Gough 51 mins), Alun-Wyn Jones, Alix Popham, Martyn Williams (Rees 58 mins, J Thomas 66 mins)), Rhys Jones.
Matthew Rees, Gethin Jenkins, Ian Gough, Jonathan Thomas, Michael Phillips, Ceri Sweeney, Tom Shanklin
Referee: Alan Lewis
Man of the match: Simon Taylor
Attendance: 67,800 - capacity crowd.