The repositioning of James Hook from 15 to 10 and Scottish indecision with ball in hand proved to be the difference between Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield on the evening of Saturday 12th February 2011 as the two sides met in their RBS 6 Nations 2011 clash.
Wales, primarily through Hook and the ever-impressive finishing of Shane Williams, ran out with a slightly flattering 24-6 scoreline after a thoroughly deserved away victory.
Scotland, however, will rue their failure to finish a couple of quality chances to close the gap mid-way through the second half, particularly as this spell of pressure – when within ten points, at 16-6 – was followed by first a Wales penalty, which Hook knocked over, and then a second Wales try for Williams, which came following a Scottish handling error.
Williams was really the obvious difference between the sides as Scotland found they worked good chances and field position and, not for the first time in the past 24 months, discovered that there was nobody capable of breaking the line on either side of their backs. However, Hook, back to his brilliant best in the 10 shirt, was also a key man for the Welsh.
It was Hook’s line break which set up Williams to open the scoring in the 8th minute, and Williams, as all good wingers do, had cut in and got on his shoulder to take a simple offload and dash five yards for the line. Hook then knocked over the conversion and added three penalties in a first half which Wales won 16-3.
The second half took a similar pattern, scoring-wise, though Scotland, urged on by their home support, could, and really should have crossed the line at least once, but for a lack of a finisher. A build-up of good home pressure eventually broke down, and a Scottish infringement saw another Wales penalty knocked over, after Dan Parks had returned from a long foray into Welsh territory with only a three point penalty of his own.
Scotland will be most disappointed with the defeat, but this was a deserved Welsh victory, as they had shown that little bit more inventiveness in the backs than they have in recent games. The catalyst? James Hook at ten. It would be a huge surprise if Hook is not wearing ten at the start of each remaining RBS 6 Nations 2011 match for Wales.
Scotland will need to improve their handling and their decision making with the ball in hand if they are to pick up the result they need to avoid a wooden spoon this year – though it is still difficult to see where five pointers could come from in the Scottish back line at present.
Scotland 6-24 Wales Points Breakdown
|Parks 2||Hook 4|