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Rugby Union: Wales 27-13 Scotland, RBS 6 Nations 2012 Match Report

(HT 3-3)
Cuthbert, Halfpenny 2TryLaidlaw
Halfpenny 3ConversionLaidlaw
Halfpenny 2PenaltyLaidlaw 2

Wales defeated Scotland 27-13 in the RBS 6 Nations 2012 at Millennium Stadium after scoring 24 points in 14 second half minutes to take the match away from an otherwise resolute Scotland side.

The teams came in after a grueling and thoroughly absorbing first half, with the scores locked at 3-3.

Scotland could perhaps have been a try to the good after a play into 22 phases ended inches short of the try line with a Scottish knock on, but Wales, too, had shown early promise with the ball in hand, and also exhibited great defensive qualities, with their on-rushing umbrella defence proving very effective every time Scotland pulled the ball out wide.

It was Scotland’s forwards, particularly their back row men, who arguably deserved the plaudits after a battling opening period, though Wales will be disappointed that they failed to set a good base from the set piece, with two Welsh lineouts going to Scottish hands.

But, following a late burst up the pitch by Scotland, Wales were happy to kick the ball out of the dead ball line to get the half over with at 3-3 with a penalty apiece from Laidlaw – who also missed one difficult kick – and Halfpenny.

In the second half, Scotland did what they did against England – committed several big errors right from the blocks.

First Chris Cusiter and the otherwise excellent David Denton got their wires crossed from the restart, with both players seeming to leave the ball for each other. It ended up flicking Cusiter’s boot before going out of play for a Welsh line-out just 15 yards from the Scottish line: immediate pressure for the Welsh, which they soon converted into a try when Alex Cuthbert looped around into a miss-match with Laidlaw, a few stone the lighter. Laidlaw missed the tackle, and Cuthbert, who had shown some excellent pace throughout, dived in for a deserved try, which Halfpenny converted to give Wales a quick seven point lead.

Then Scotland made their task even harder. The ball went down from Scottish hands and was hacked forward by Wales’ centre, Jonathan Davies, who was then tackled off the ball by opposite number, Nick De Luca. The touch judge did not miss this indiscretion, and advised match referee Romaine Poite to award a penalty, and issue a yellow card – which he duly did.

Halfpenny added three points from the penalty.

Despite Scotland grabbing three points of their own when finally getting into the Welsh half, Wales added a try through Halfpenny as their superior numbers told. Wales showed great patience and good hands to work the ball from one side to the other, before Halfpenny made the extra man count before rounding everyone and putting the ball under the posts. The easier kick meant Wales soon led 20-6.

A minute later, and Scotland’s short-handedness would get even worse, as Rory Lamont was put into the Sin Bin for a professional foul when tackling from an offside position. Halfpenny would take advantage just a couple of minutes later when he found no-one home on the left wing for an easy score.

Halfpenny slotted another kick, this time from wide on the left, to add the two points, and put Wales into a commanding 27-6 lead.

But Scotland, even with a man down, then began to regain the composure they showed in the first half, and worked themselves back into Welsh territory. Hogg, who had come on in the first half for Max Evans, was unlucky not to be awarded a try when he appeared to have just re-gathered a low pass to dive over the line – the referee pinged him for a knock on. After a slightly nervy introduction, Hogg, who scored plenty of points for Scotland A 8 days ago, was beginning to have an impact on the match.

Moments later, when the ball was worked up the left flank, Hogg raced for the line, and was stopped only just short. Laidlaw was canny to pick up and dive to place the ball on the line for the first Scottish try in five matches, before converting his own score to reduce the deficit to 14 points.

Despite some good pressure from the Scots, Wales were good enough to ride out the remaining 15 minutes following Laidlaw’s try, though Scotland came very close on a couple of occassions to making the final 5 or 6 minutes very interesting by scoring in what was an enthralling encounter.

Wales were brilliant for 15 second half power play minutes, and will be confident of beating the new look England in a fortnight’s time for the Triple Crown, but Scotland looked as good as ever: if only they could have put hands on the restart here, and played with the same intensity throughout the full 80 minutes, they could easily have hurt Wales in Millennium Stadium today.

But “ifs” and “ands” and “what ifs” are becoming something of a habit for Scotland. It is time for them to produce a result to match their solid performances. They have three more chances in this tournament to do just that.

Wales still have a Grand Slam and an RBS 6 Nations crown available to them. Whether or not they are good enough for either is something which was not, quite, answered today. Twickenham will be a key indicator in two week’s time, as both England and Wales enter that match unbeaten.

Wales were superb at times today, but never really needed to get into their attacking stride thanks to Scottish errors early in the second half. Scotland will be bitterly disappointed to come away from yet another largely strong performance with naught.

The statistics tell an interesting story: Scotland had more possession than Wales, and forced their opponents to make 178 tackles to their 99, but, importantly, Wales used their lower amount of ball to make 7 line breaks to Scotland’s 5, largely when Scotland were short-handed. That was the difference between two otherwise very closely matched rugby teams.

Wales coach Warren Gatland said afterwards, he was “Pleased with the result. [but there are] A few things to work on with the performance.” That about sums it up for Wales. For Scotland, the opposite.

Wales v Scotland – RBS 6 Nations 2012 Squads

Wales: 15-Leigh Halfpenny, 14-Alex Cuthbert, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Jamie Roberts, 11-George North, 10-Rhys Priestland, 9-Mike Phillips; 1-Gethin Jenkins, 2-Huw Bennett, 3-Adam Jones, 4-Ryan Jones, 5-Ian Evans, 6-Dan Lydiate, 7-Aaron Shingler, 8-Toby Faletau.

Wales Replacements: 16-Ken Owens, 17-Paul James, 18-Lou Reed, 19-Andy Powell, 20-Lloyd Williams, 21-James Hook, 22-Scott Williams.

Scotland: 15-Rory Lamont, 14-Lee Jones, 13-Nick De Luca, 12-Sean Lamont, 11-Max Evans, 10-Greig Laidlaw, 9-Chris Cusiter; 1-Allan Jacobsen, 2-Ross Ford, 3-Geoff Cross, 4-Richie Gray, 5-Jim Hamilton, 6-Alasdair Strokosch, 7-Ross Rennie, 8-David Denton.

Scotland Replacements: 16-Scott Lawson, 17-Ed Kalman, 18-Alastair Kellock, 19-John Barclay, 20-Mike Blair, 21-Duncan Weir, 22-Stuart Hogg.

Wales v Scotland – RBS 6 Nations 2012 Match Facts

Phases of PlayPhases of Play
Scrums Won33Scrums Won
Lineouts Won107Lineouts Won
Pens Conceded139Pens Conceded
Freekick Conceded21Freekick Conceded
Mauls Won12Mauls Won
Ruck and Drive827Ruck and Drive
Ruck and Pass60111Ruck and Pass
Ball WonBall Won
In Open Play69140In Open Play
In Opponent’s 223435In Opponent’s 22
At Set Pieces2223At Set Pieces
Turnovers Won31Turnovers Won
Team StatisticsTeam Statistics
Passes Completed154254Passes Completed
Line Breaks75Line Breaks
Possession Kicked2619Possession Kicked
Errors from Kicks10Errors from Kicks
Kicks to Touch23Kicks to Touch
Percentage Kicks39.00%29.00%Percentage Kicks
Tackles Made17899Tackles Made
Tackle Completion91.00%91.00%Tackle Completion
Offloads in Tackle1019Offloads in Tackle
Offloads / Tackled10.00%10.00%Offloads / Tackled
Total Errors Made108Total Errors Made
Errors / Possession15.00%12.00%Errors / Possession
Minutes in PossessionMinutes in Possession
First Half10:53:0017:32:00First Half
Second Half17:07:0017:43:00Second Half
Mins in Opponent’s HalfMins in Opponent’s Half
First Half20:43:0020:41:00First Half
Second Half25:26:0018:37:00Second Half

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Stories from the Sport Desk at The Global Herald.

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