Wales rally to edge Scotland

Date published: February 13 2016

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Tries in the second half from Jamie Roberts and George North secured a 27-23 win for Wales over Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The most entertaining game of the 2016 Six Nations to date was far from flawless but Wales kept faith in Warrenball over width to get back to winning ways after that draw in Dublin, before North’s solo effort – his first try in six Tests – took the game away from the visitors. Duncan Taylor’s consolation score came too late to change the outcome.

Wales though were behind at the break thanks to the boot of Greig Laidlaw, the Scotland captain, trying to propel his side to victory after they hadn’t won in Cardiff since 2002. It was also nine long years since their last triumph over Wales, a scoop of extra motivation if any was needed after fluffing their lines against England. This was a vast improvement but in the end an almighty opportunity missed as Vern Cotter’s side faded.

Broken field of course is Gareth Davies’ best friend and the scrum-half sped into it for the game’s first points. From Dan Biggar’s short chip over the top the ball rebounded perfectly into the hands of the livewire scrum-half, who turned Tommy Seymour inside out on a superb 50-metre sprint to the try line.

Scotland’s response was more a less instant – patient build-up controlled by Laidlaw and the Scottish carriers reaching 21 phases, before Finn Russell chipped over the top of the defence to the corner where Tommy Seymour was ready and waiting. Laidlaw’s conversion from the touchline made it 7-7.

Line breaks were at a premium, John Barclay’s burst a moment of promise that ended by the flanker opting to kick – just as Russell did the week before against England – when a pass was the better option.

Wales' preference to test Seymour under the high ball ended without success, the winger rising to the challenge in a brilliant first half an hour.

Scotland though were hit by the early loss of Stuart Hogg to injury shortly before Laidlaw’s first penalty put the visitors ahead for the first time, after John Hardie’s success at the breakdown.

On top at the scrum, the Welsh pack squeezed another penalty out of Scotland for Biggar to tie the score again at 10-10. Their visitors however had the final say of the half, winning another kickable penalty for Laidlaw as the captain sent Scotland into the break ahead at 13-10.

Thanks to the brilliant break of North it was the hosts who responded first after the interval, a second Biggar penalty levelling the scores.

Seeking more energy from his tight five Warren Gatland brought on Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens and Bradley Davies only seven minutes into the second half, as Scotland continued to pressure Gareth Davies on his clearance kicks.

A contest seemingly destined to hinge on one mistake, Liam Williams’ knock-on under the high ball presented Scotland with a vital opportunity and their scrum delivered, winning a penalty for Laidlaw to restore the lead at 13-16.

A break however from Tom James up the touchline threatened to turn the tide, stopped only by Taylor's covering tackle, as Scotland rallied initially before coughing up a five-metre scrum from which Wales eventually scored.

It took multiple resets before Roberts fulfilled his objective by crashing over from short range for a second Welsh try.

After Roberts had battered down the door North ran through it, ending his Test match drought. Cutting back on the angle onto an inside ball from Biggar, the wing hit an outstanding line and had too much pace for the defence to catch him.

And while Taylor held off the defence to go over for Scotland shortly before full-time, his efforts were in vain – Wales doing enough to secure their first win of the Championship.

Man of the Match: One of Tommy Seymour's best games for Scotland but Jamie Roberts capped off another productive, if unglamourous, afternoon with a key try to flip the lead in the second half.

Moment of the Match: We've waited for a glimpse of George North at full flight for some time and he delivered with an outstanding solo score to put Wales out of reach.

Villain of the Match: Nothing nasty to report.

The scorers:

For Wales:
Tries: G Davies, Roberts, North
Cons: Biggar 3
Pens: Biggar 2

For Scotland:
Tries: Seymour, Taylor
Cons: Laidlaw, Weir
Pens: Laidlaw 3

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Anscombe

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 David Denton, 7 John Hardie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Sean Lamont

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

by Ben Coles in Cardiff

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