Scotland survive almighty Six Nations scare against Wales to end Cardiff hoodoo

Planet Rugby
Scotland lift the Doddie Weir Cup in Cardiff.

Scotland lift the Doddie Weir Cup in Cardiff.

Scotland survived an almighty scare as they almost threw away a 27-0 lead against Wales before holding on to win 27-26 in a thrilling Six Nations match on Saturday.

This is Scotland’s first victory against Wales in Cardiff in 22 years and it was a strange game of two halves, with Gregor Townsend’s charges coming out on top in the end.

A brace from Duhan van der Merwe was added to by an early Pierre Schoeman try while Finn Russell kicked 12 points off the tee in a classy first-half showing from the fly-half.

But then James Botham, Rio Dyer, Aaron Wainwright and Alex Mann scored for Wales as they pick up two points from the defeat via a losing bonus and a try bonus-point.

Click here for scorers

Scotland found themselves on the rack after hooker George Turner and centre Sione Tuipulotu were sin-binned during the second period, yet they successfully closed the game out and left Wales wondering what might have been.

Both teams started brightly under the stadium’s closed roof and Scotland struck first when Russell kicked an angled 20-metre penalty, before quick lineout ball gave Tuipulotu a chance that Wales managed to defend.

Wales, though, could not stop wave after wave of attacks that led to the game’s opening try after 11 minutes.

Russell created initial space and after a strong run by wing Kyle Steyn, Scotland’s forwards took over and Schoeman crossed from close range. Russell’s conversion made it 10-0.

Scotland enjoyed scrum and lineout dominance and they controlled the opening quarter, even if Wales established promising attacking positions at times.

Russell extended Scotland’s lead with a second penalty – Wales wing Josh Adams was punished for throwing the ball away and denying Scotland a quick lineout throw – and alarm bells were beginning to ring for Warren Gatland’s team.

Inevitably, Russell was at the heart of everything good about Scotland’s magic and he weaved his magic to devastating effect 10 minutes before half-time.

Scotland set up a strong position inside Wales’ 22 and the rest was all about Russell, who ghosted into space, threw a half-dummy pass, then delivered a try on a plate for Van der Merwe.

There appeared no way back for Wales, with their problems showing no sign of abating as fly-half Sam Costelow went off for a head injury assessment as Scotland led 20-0 at the interval.

It got even worse for Wales just two minutes into the second period when Van der Merwe carved them open from deep to claim a blistering solo touchdown, and Russell’s conversion put further daylight between the teams.

Costelow failed his HIA and Gatland made three half-time changes, sending on scrum-half Tomos Williams, hooker Elliot Dee and prop Keiron Assiratti, and Wales opened their account when Botham crashed over.

Turner was sin-binned for an offence in the build-up to Botham’s try and Wales struck again, this time through Dyer, with Ioan Lloyd’s conversion cutting the gap suddenly and unexpectedly to 15 points.

It was panic stations for Scotland when Tuipulotu went into the sin bin and Wales punished them immediately as Wainwright touched down for a third try in 13 minutes, with Lloyd converting.

The capacity crowd could scarcely believe what they were witnessing, but it was Williams’s influence off the bench that proved key as he injected pace and purpose into Wales’ game.

And when Mann claimed a 68th-minute try, again converted by Lloyd, the improbable dream edged closer, with Scotland looking bewildered and devoid of answers.

But they somehow held out, Wales left with the consolation of two Six Nations losing bonus points.

The teams

Wales: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 James Botham, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Dafydd Jenkins, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Corey Domachowski
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Teddy Williams, 20 Alex Mann, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Mason Grady

Scotland: 15 Kyle Rowe, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (c), 9 Ben White, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Luke Crosbie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 George Horne, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Cameron Redpath

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

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