Scotland V Wales

Scotland succumbed to their third defeat in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship in spite of a monumental physical effort against Grand Slam chasing Wales in front of a capacity BT Murrayfield crowd this afternoon.

Scotland did score a majestic second-half try through the twinkling toes and searing acceleration of Darcy Graham but for a home victory today they would need to have harvested rather more given the time they had spent within the Welsh 22.

With Jonny Gray and Tommy Seymour both winning their 50thcaps for Scotland, the home team were searching for their 50thwin against Wales and the chance to win the Doddie Weir Cup, contested for the first time in the Championship, after it was hanselled at Cardiff in the special match last November.

Wales kicked off to the Railway end of the ground and within the first minute we had the first scrum in the lee of the East Stand. Josh Adams was released after Wales had gone through the phases, but Finn Russell was on hand to police his kick ahead.

Scotland probed in and around the Welsh 22 with Willie Nel taking the ball at first receiver, after Welsh scrum-half Gareth Davies had guddled a kick. But a penalty enabled Wales to clear.

From a Darcy Graham high ball take Scotland won a penalty and off the resultant lineout Wales were offside. Russell’s penalty gave Scotland the lead (3-0, 11 mins).

Wales hit back within two minutes as ball was worked right then left for Adams to maintain his recent rich vein of try scoring form to take the touchline route and escape the clutches of Kinghorn and dot down. Gareth Anscombe converted (3-7, 13 mins).

Scotland had endured some additional injury disruption in the first quarter with Jamie Ritchie going off for blood, then his replacement Hamish Watson also heading up the tunnel with Fraser Brown on.

In amongst the coming and going, Graham, legs pumping like pistons, all but found an opening inside the Welsh 22 and with support from Seymour (in spite of an arm injury which forced his departure), Scotland manufactured a penalty chance which Russell nailed (6-7, 19 mins).

Wales responded in kind with Anscombe’s first penalty four minutes later (6-10, 23 mins).

From another sustained Wales pick and go sequence ball was worked left for Jonathan Davies to cross for their second try. Anscombe missed the conversion (6-15, 30 mins).

Wales were dominant and when Anscombe’s penalty came off the left upright a combination of Adam Hastings (on for Kinghorn), Graham and Allan Dell were required to deny the elusive Adams.

From a scrum five, Scotland’s defence held firm and the half-time whistle brought some respite.

Half-time: Scotland 6 -15 Wales 

The second-half needed a spark from a Scotland perspective and a 35-metre surge from Dell got the crowd roaring. Sadly, however, mis-execution on the pass from Russell to Byron McGuigan snuffed out that opportunity.

A high tackle from Hadleigh Parkes on Nick Grigg eventually bequeathed a penalty for Scotland and Russell took play to within seven metres. From the driven lineout Wales conceded another penalty. On this occasion Scotland reached the goal-line but Grant Gilchrist was held up by Tomas Francis.

Scotland tried to find an opening and there was a decent cut from Adam Hastings but a turnover penalty saw that spell of pressure unrewarded.

The game was coming to the boil and you sensed if Scotland were to gain anything from this afternoon’s encounter they had to make it count.

And boy they did. Off Jamie Ritchie at the lineout and the driving maul, McGuigan was triggered by Russell on an inside cut, Hastings linked and unselfishly sent Darcy Graham in for his first Scotland try on his first start. Russell missed the conversion (11-15, 58 mins).

Russell then found space with a grubber kick which McGuigan hacked on and Wales were penalised at the breakdown for Russell again to look to the touchline. That attack however, fizzled out.

Scotland lost Graham to injury with Greig Laidlaw welcomed to huge acclaim. Laidlaw was in his customary scrum-half role with Ali Price moving to the wing.

Watson was back inside the last quarter and how he relished the chance to make his typical pulverising contributions.

Scotland enjoyed a sustained period of possession and even a turnover on McGuigan saw Wales’ habitual composure desert them as the ball went straight into touch.

It had been sledgehammer for the last ten minutes without any real sign of the Welsh defence cracking. Could Scotland find a moment of magic?

Russell tried with a kick behind the defence but Price was penalised for a premature tackle and that triggered a period of keep ball, which saw Wales win a penalty inside the final minute that Anscombe goaled to confirm the visitors’ victory.

Scotland: Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby); Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Pete Horne (all Glasgow Warriors), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby); Finn Russell (Racing 92), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Allan Dell, Stuart McInally CAPTAIN, W P Nel, Grant Gilchrist (all Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie (both Edinburgh Rugby) (off from 8-20 mins), Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks).

Subs: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) for Watson (14-20 mins) and then for McInally (69 mins), Gordon Reid (London Irish), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby) for Nel (64 mins), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby) for Gray (64 mins), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) for Ritchie (8-14mins) then for Strauss (64 mins), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) for Graham (64 mins), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) for Kinghorn (31 mins), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) for Seymour (20 mins).

Wales: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones CAPTAIN, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Subs: Elliot Dee for Owens (65 mins), Nicky Smith for Rob Evans (61 mins), Dillon Lewis for Francis (65 mins), Jake Ball for Beard (21-30 mins and again 61 mins), Aaron Wainwright for Moriarty (69 mins), Aled Davies for Gareth Davies (69 mins), Dan Biggar for Liam Williams (47 mins), Owen Watkin for Parkes (74 mins).

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France). Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England) and Federico Anselmi (Argentina). TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa).

Guinness Man of the Match: Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)

Crowd: 67,144.

live commentary 2:15 PM Saturday 9 Mar 2019

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Kick-off 2:15 PM

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