Wales v Scotland

Wales v Scotland. Pic: Getty Images

A Game Of Two Halves, Four Half-Backs, And Some Mighty Scottish Heavyweights

Dragon Bet image 2

Wales v Scotland review by Tomas Marks

The hope must be that Wales get better the longer this Six Nations goes on, after they and Scotland delivered another titanic classic at the Principality Stadium last Saturday that ultimately ended in a home defeat.

It was a compelling 80 minutes of Test match rugby.

Scotland passed the first half with flying colours with a relentless team performance.

Captain Finn Russell orchestrated the team beautifully in attack and guided them to a 20-0 half-time lead.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend used a kicking strategy to keep the ball off the pitch, with Ben White box-kicking his exit kicks off the hallowed turf.

In attack, they were direct and used the 104kg centre Sione Tuipulotu to carry forward and give the team front foot ball.

In the first half, the Scots were able to use their juggernaut ball-carriers with great effect, with Pierre Schoeman, Luke Crosbie, Matt Fagerson, Tuipulotu, Huw Jones and Duhan Van Der Merwe carrying powerfully and using their additional weight, strength and power to break the Welsh defence.

Staggeringly, their starting XV contained 11 players over 100kg, which demonstrates the size and power of this current Scottish outfit.

Scotland were intelligent in attack and half-backs White and Russell won the kicking battles with a 50:22 and a number of excellent touch-finders.

Russell exploited the backfield confusion between Sam Costelow and Cameron Winnett to gain territorial advantage.

The first try was scored by prop Pierre Schoeman carrying through Leon Brown and James Botham to score under the posts.

The second try was a carbon copy of several previous Scottish international tries with White passing to Tuipulotu and Russell looping Huw Jones, and then giving Van Der Merwe a try-scoring pass.

Unsurprisingly, with lots of Welsh changes, there was disconnection between the players, with inaccuracy in the line-out and team attack and system errors in defence.

Scotland used the 10-12 channel on their carriers to exploit the Sam Costelow and Nick Tompkins, and Wales tried to exploit Russell from five-man line-outs.

Wales carried from line-outs, using James Botham in the 13 channel to exploit Russell, but on Saturday the captain was up to the task in defence.

Unfortunately, in the first half Wales were blunt in attack with no penetration from the likes of Josh Adams, Tompkins, Adam Beard, James Botham and Tommy Reffell.

Scotland defence coach Steve Tandy used a double tackle tactic to stop the Welsh attack and they were able to hold up winger Adams in a tackle and force attack errors from Welsh captain Dafydd Jenkins, Tompkins and Adams.

As coach, Warren Gatland explained in the post-match conference the team were simply too inaccurate in the first half with a 54% lineout – conceding four cheap penalties and lacking energy and intensity in attack and defence.

The only โ€œgreen shootsโ€ in the first half was Reffellโ€™s two jackal turnovers and despite being scoreless they still had 46% possession, but wasted opportunities.

Scotland started the second half with a bang by scoring first and getting into a 27-0 lead.

Wales kicked long from a Tomos Williams box kick, but Scotland counter-attacked with their most potent players in and around the ball.

Kyle Steyn fed Russell and he spotted the poor kick-chase defence and ghosted through the line and off-loaded to the speedster Van Der Merwe and he did the rest.

It was refreshing to see a winger using his speed and flying past the cover defence to score another opening day Six Nations stunner.

Anybody outside of Wales was probably thinking that was game over. But the Welsh are never done and will keep on battling for the 80 minutes.

The game completely turned in the second-half with an increased Welsh attacking tempo, renewed 88% line-out, 10 off-loads and a gung-ho spirit.

Replacement scrum half Tomos Williams was the catalyst to this rejuvenation with quick taps and positivity in attack.

Wales scored two excellent line-out maul tries by shifting the drive to the front, and scored a brace through James Botham and debutant Alex Mann.

Williams fed Rio Dyer for a try and colossal No.8 Aaron Wainwright burrowed his way over underneath the posts.

Scotland gave away 14 consecutive penalties which resulted in two yellow cards.

This dramatically affected their performance and it looked as if this was going to be another Scottish catastrophe!

They conceded 21 points when they were down to 14 players but held on in the last 10 minutes when they were back to 15 players.

Elliott Dee was excellent in the second half but he will rue the inaccurate throw on the 75th minute as it was prime attacking ball for the Welsh team.

Despite this opportunity, they were unlucky not to gain a penalty from a seat-belt tackle from Cameron Redpath.

But, to be fair, the referee as consistent with this offence as he didnโ€™t penalise Steyn for a similar tackle in the first half on Adams.

Ioan Lloyd tried to orchestrate a Welsh attack in the final minutes and tried to manipulate the Scottish defence with a โ€œJack Crowleyesqueโ€ pass to Mason Grady.

Unfortunately, this attempt was a forward pass to Grady and was their final chance of the match.

The Scots finished with aplomb with a dominant scrum and excellent attack and were unlucky not to gain a bonus point in the final act of the match.

Wales will take confidence in the brave comeback and the coaching team will be buoyed with the leadership of Dafydd Jenkins under adversity, calmness of Cameron Winnett, consistency of Dyer, confidence of Williams and magnitude of the individual performance of Aaron Wainwright.

Scotland will have breathed a huge sigh of relief, but winning in Cardiff will give them belief that they can challenge for the Six Nations with the Irish.

As Wales prepare for a trip to Twickenham, they will need to bolster the squad with genuine ball carriers.

They will likely add George North to the midfield, Taine Basham or Mackenzie Martin on the bench, and we will probably see 19-year-old Morgan Morse in a Welsh shirt by the end of the campaign.

Wales will get better as the tournament continues and will relish going to England as underdogs.

Dragon Bet image 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *