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Scotland 24 Wales 25

Scotland’s Championship ambitions, fuelled after the historic victory at Twickenham last weekend, stuttered at BT Murrayfield tonight against a never-say-die Wales.

It was the visitors who made it two from two in the Guinness Six Nations Championship in a breathless match and that seemed a fanciful proposition midway through the first-half when Scotland had led 17-3.

Wales were persistent and a mix of a strong driving maul and wide spread gave them a foothold back in the match just before half-time, duly exploited in the second-half with a virtuoso display from winger Louis Rees-Zammit.

Ultimately, however, the game turned during six second-half minutes which saw Scotland denied a try for Gary Graham through obstruction and then had Zander Fagerson red-carded for head contact on Wyn Jones. During this period, Wales plundered two well-constructed tries to take the lead.

No-one could have done more in a losing cause than Scotland’s captain, Stuart Hogg. His second try, inside the final quarter, had hauled Scotland back in front.

But it was Wales’ try brace from Louis Rees-Zammit which ultimately was to prove the winning hand.

As if the snow from Storm Darcy – good name that in the week of a Scotland rugby international – had not been enough, there was a flurry 45 minutes before kick-off as both teams warmed up with British and Irish Lions coach Warrant Gatland in the house.

Scotland were aiming for their fifth Championship win in succession for the first time in 37 years.

Wales were targeting their sixth win in their last seven international visits to Edinburgh.

Before kick-off Scottish Rugby paid tribute to the 11 Scotland caps who have passed away since we last gathered on Six Nations duty at BT Murrayfield.

There were also condolences expressed to all from the wider community who have died, alongside a sincere acknowledgement for all NHS, emergency services and key workers for continuing to steer us through the pandemic.

Once again, as throughout the Autumn, both teams stood united as rugby against racism.

Scotland kicked off through Finn Russell towards the railway end of the ground and Chris Harris looked lively in the opening exchanges. Wales were awarded a penalty at the first scrum, but Scotland then won ball against the throw at the first lineout.

A high ball take from Leigh Halfpenny saw Scotland pinged at the subsequent breakdown. Wales won line-out ball at the front and then went through the phases before Scotland were caught offside. Halfpenny was on target for the game’s opening points (0-3, 6 mins).

From the re-start, Matt Fagerson pouched a Gareth Davies box kick and there was contact in the air. Scotland opted for the touchline, Scott Cummings won ball, Duhan van der Merwe exploded off his wing and the forwards thundered on. Wales infringed at the ruck and Russell levelled from in front of the posts (3-3, 10 mins).

Blade Thomson departed with a head injury, replaced by Gary Graham, as Scotland sought to explore the wide channels on the left. But a 15th minute penalty on the right, enabled Russell to fire Scotland into the Welsh 22 only for Wales to clear up at a messy line-out.

As we neared the end of the first quarter, Scotland had their dander up. Russell released Jonny Gray who marauded forward and when loose ball was provided later in the sequence Ali Price kicked over the fast-advancing Welsh defence to find space and on to the ball rapidly accelerated Darcy Graham to collect and score his eighth try for Scotland at the same end as he had scored when Wales were last at BT Murrayfield. Russell converted (10-3, 18 mins).

Six minutes later, Scotland struck again. Off scrum possession ball went right, crisp handling via Harris and Russell uncorked Stuart Hogg on a searing intrusion. The captain timed his kick ahead to get to the ball before Halfpenny and then allow his momentum to take him over the try line in Watkin’s tackle. Russell converted Hogg’s 21st try for Scotland (17-3, 24 mins).

Darcy Graham was toppled in aerial combat with Halfpenny which saw the Welsh full-back depart for an HIA, but Scotland continued to look lively. Curiously, referee Carley awarded Scotland a penalty but took no further sanction against Wales.

But then as half time loomed Scotland conceded three penalties in quick succession and Wales opted to attack from the touchline. Their ploy bore fruit as Dan Biggar and Watkin found space on the right, Williams joined the line and Louis Rees-Zammit made it two tries in six days after his score against Ireland last weekend. Biggar missed the conversion (17-8, 38 mins).

Half time: Scotland 17 Wales 8

From the re-start Russell fizzed a pass to Harris inside his own 22 and the centre unleashed Hogg but a penalty against Gary Graham for going to deck gave Wales a golden opportunity to set up a close-range lineout. Execution went awry from Biggar however, van der Merwe gathered, and Scotland were soon securing a scrum put-in in Welsh territory.

Scotland’s defence went through a purposeful set and then it was the turn of their attack as with a penalty advantage being played, Scotland set George Turner careering forward from a short penalty.

The advantage disappeared however, as referee Carley ruled Scott Cummings had obstructed Gary Graham as the back-rower touched down.

The failure to score there was compounded immediately as Scotland were penalised in contact on Hogg. Wales got a driving maul going and some lovely hands from substitute Callum Sheedy was the perfect prelude to Liam Williams’s try. Sheedy converted and Wales were right back in the contest (17-15, 51 mins).

Matters worsened for Scotland in the 53rd minute as Zander Fagerson was red carded for a wipe out at breakdown on Wyn Jones. There appeared to be a contact with the head, but the movement of both players had to be scrutinised. A big call, which always seemed destined to be decisive.

Fagerson thus became only the fourth Scot after Nathan Hines, Scott Murray and Stuart Hogg to be sent off in international rugby.

Sure enough, Wales capitalised as a driving maul was rounded off with Wyn Jones getting the touchdown. Sheedy missed the conversion (17-20, 56 mins).

Scotland brought on Willem Nel and sacrificed Darcy Graham on the wing to maintain their pack complement. They opted to scrum rather than kick at goal as they pressed in the Welsh 22 as the game entered the final quarter.

Their enterprise was rewarded as Price and Russell linked to send Hogg, in full flight, in on the narrow side for his second try of the match. Russell struck a magnificent touchline conversion (24-20, 65 mins.).

Hogg then had to look lively at the other end to police a probing kick from Sheedy.

But Wales were not be denied for long as Rees-Zammit showed some serious wheels up the West Stand touchline in pursuit of his own kick ahead to complete his try double. Sheedy again miscued the conversion, but the visitors were back in front (24-25, 69 mins).

Scotland were tiring but they continued to throw the kitchen sink at a superb Welsh defence. Hogg made a scything break, but he appeared to lose his footing and Rees-Zammit then showed great footballing skills to send a clearance kick into the home 22 as the clock ticked down.

Scotland strove manfully to break out from deep in their own territory and there was almost an interception as Russell’s pass went astray.

As the clock was in the red, Scotland got a rolling maul going and Dave Cherry broke off, ball was moved right, and Russell conjured an opening for van der Merwe. It looked as if he might escape but a brilliant tap tackle by Watkin summed up Welsh resilience.

Full-time: Scotland 24 Wales 25

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) CAPTAIN; Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Harris (Gloucester), James Lang (Harlequins), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby); Finn Russell (Racing 92), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby), George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings (all Glasgow Warriors), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs), Blade Thomson (Scarlets), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors).

Subs: David Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) for Tuner (68 mins), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) for Sutherland (68 mins), Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) for Darcy Graham (58mi mins), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) for Gary Graham (57 mins), Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) for Thomson (12 mins), Scott Steele (Harlequins), Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh Rugby), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) for Lang (72 mins).

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Louis Rees-Zammit, Owen Watkin, Nick Tompkins, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones CAPTAIN, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Subs: Elliot Dee for Owens (71 mins), Rhodri Jones for Wyn Jones (76 mins), Leon Brown for Francis (62 mins), Will Rowlands for A Wyn Jones (70 mins), James Botham for Wainwright (62 mins), Kieran Hardy for Davies (48 mins), Callum Sheedy for Biggar (48 mins), Willis Halaholo for Halfpenny (32 mins).

Referee: Matt Carley (England). Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France) and Andrea Picardi (Italy). TMO: Karl Dickson (England).

GUINNESS Player of the Match: Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales).

live commentary 4:45 PM Saturday 13 Feb 2021

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Kick-off 4:45 PM



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