Ruthless Scotland expose wasteful Wales in record win
Wales suffered their second defeat in as many games in the 2023 Six Nations against a ruthless Scotland 35-7 who run in five tries at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium.
Wales (7) 7
Tries: Owens Cons: Biggar Pens:
Scotland (13) 35
Tries: Turner, Steyn (2), Kinghorn, M Fagurson Cons: Russell (2) Pens: Russell (2)
In a day where records fell with Scotland running in five tries, winning by their highest margin against Wales. An inspired individual performance from fly-half Finn Russell led Gregor Townsend’s side to back-to-back victories in their opening Six Nations fixtures for the first time since 1996.
A first half try from hooker George Turner had helped the Scots into an early 13-point advantage, as once again Wales started slowly. Welsh captain Ken Owens’ score reduced the arrears as Turner spent time in the sin bin before the break. Wales though could not capitalise on their numerical advantage spurning a host of chances going into half time behind.
It proved a turning point as back to a full strength in the second period, Scotland and man of the match Russell punished the Welsh. The Racing 92 man having a hand in all four second half tries.
Glasgow Warriors winger Kyle Steyn’s quick fire double, going over twice in the corner put the result out of reach, before replacement full-back Blair Kinghorn and number eight Matt Fagerson added further gloss on the scoreline. Wales once again then lost their discipline seeing full back Liam Williams depart in the final quarter to the sin bin for the second week in a row.
For Warren Gatland, the challenge now will be to pick up his beleaguered side for their much-anticipated meeting against England at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in two weeks’ time to kick start a disappointing Six Nations campaign. Having conceded 30 points for the second weekend running and been well beaten by both the Scots and Irish, the Kiwi will be demanding more from his team against Steve Borthwick’s new look England side to change Welsh fortunes.
Gatland had chosen to shuffle his forward line for the trip to Murrayfield opting for the youthful duo of Exeter Chief’s Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza both winning their first caps, whilst there was also a start for Leicester Tigers Tommy Reffell in the back row amongst five changes to the side beaten against Ireland.
Experienced veterans Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric making way, omitted from the travelling party, whilst there was only a place on the replacement bench for Toby Faletau.
It was Scotland, fresh from the confidence gained from their 29-23 victory against England at Twickenham last time out that started the brighter. Russell kicking his side into an early six-point advantage after Wales’ ill-discipline had cost a series of penalties.
In an open first period, Wales had their fair share of the play. Rio Dyer, once again lively out on the wing involved in the Welsh best moments. The Dragons player also showing his defensive strength tackling Steyn into touch after Russell’s crafted chip had gained the Scots territory.
It was a warning for Wales which wasn’t heeded, Scotland’s powerful pack driving through in the resulting maul from a lost Welsh lineout, with hooker George Turner bulldozing his way over the try line.
Turner, though, went from hero to villain moments later, caught up in the adrenaline of the occasion. Over exertive going in high in the tackle on Welsh centre George North, the Glasgow man earning himself a yellow card and ten minutes in the sin bin.
With a shift in momentum, Wales started to gain a foothold in the game and dually struck back through captain Owens. The Scarlets hooker driving over with the extra man in the ruck off a Welsh line out.
Wales had their tails up with the deficit back in single figures and could have edged their noses in front just before the break. Cuthbert bursting into the Scottish 22-yard area from a sweeping Welsh move. Dyer, however, unable to grasp the crucial final pass of the phase of play with the chance going begging.
The Scots responded to their reprieve, back to a full allocation after the break to extend their lead. The Murrayfield faithful raucous in appreciation with Russell producing a moment of strength and innovative magic to send a reverse pass into the grateful hands of Steyn to score his side’s second and his fifth try for his country.
Wales, paying the price for missed openings then lost Williams, as frustrations started to run high. The Cardiff full-back’s ill-discipline proving to be a costly blow as Scotland took the game out of Welsh reach.
The boot of Russell perfectly crafting a chipped cross field pass to expose the extra space for the onrushing Steyn to get his second score of the afternoon.
Wales showed fight and courage despite being a man down but failed to execute their territory within Scotland’s final third with replacement Carre held up on the Scottish line.
With the damage already been done there were bright spots with the introductions of Leon Brown and Osprey’s debutant Rhys Davies, part of what will be Gatland’s rebuild of the Welsh lineup over his tenure.
It was the Scots though who had the last laugh running in two more tries to add gloss and a clinical edge to the scoreline, earning a bonus point in the process. Russell again the instigator finding space for replacement Kinghorn to sprint into the corner, before Fagerson drove over late to cap a record score for Townsend’s side.
For Scotland a well-deserved win as they move on to a tricky trip to Paris to play France, as for Wales, coach Gatland will move on to their match with England in a fortnight’s time knowing his Welsh side will have to raise their game to kick start their campaign.
Liam Williams, Adams, North (Cuthbert 33), Hawkins, Dyer, Biggar (Patchell 56), Tomos Williams, Wyn Jones (Carre 52), Owens (Captain) (Baldwin 64), Lewis (Brown 64), D Jenkins (Davies 65), Beard, 6 Tshiunza, 7 Reffell, 8 Jac Morgan (Faletau 52).
15 Hogg (Kilgorn 13), 14 Steyn, 13 Hugh Jones, 12 Tuipulotlu (Harris 71), 11 Van Der Merwe, 10 Russell, 9 White (G Horne 58), 1 Schoeman (Bhatti 64), 2 Turner (Brown 58), Z Fagerson (Nel 64), 4 R Grey, 5 Gilchrist (J Grey 64), 6 Ritchie, 7 Crosbie (Brown 36), 8 M Fagerson.
(Lead image: Planet Rugby)
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