UK News Wales 10-14 Scotland: Scots claim first victory in Wales for 18 years
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Scotland braved out a wily win over Wales to ruin Alun Wyn Jones’ crowning as rugby’s most capped player, toughing out a terrible game in the Six Nations.
Thanks to a Stuart McInally try, and kicks from Finn Russell, Adam Hastings and Stuart Hogg Gregor Townsend’s men stole it and made sure Wales suffered a fifth consecutive loss.
In a game that had less joy than a government Covid briefing Wales were torn apart at the breakdown, lost their first match at home to Scotland since 2002 and finished a lowly fifth in the Six Nations having gone into the tournament as Grand Slam champions when it started in February.
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Jamie Ritchie, the Scottish flanker, had a whale of a time on the floor and now pressure will heap onto Welsh boss Wayne Pivac who has led his side to their worst run since 2016.
Jones – winning his 149th Test cap – could not drag his team home, and so a silent Scarlets stadium instead saluted the Scots.
Of course, it was all so strange and still. The Llanelli winds played havoc with the flames that shot up around the pitch – trying to replicate the pre-match build-up of the Principality Stadium.
At least it started in sun. In fact a few rays poked out just as the teams stood in silence to mark the passing of the great JJ Williams, as if the winger was peering down from on high checking in on his boys in the town he enjoyed so many afternoons.
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When usually rousing the anthems felt more poignant and emotional. A superb choral piece arranged especially for the moment by the WRU quietly echoed around the empty stands here, the sound of the spider camera tracking along in front of the press seats sometimes distracting you from the close harmonies.
Captain Jones went for it, as per, for the 140th time in Welsh red a tear not far from his eye. You can expect millions roared by their sofa with him yearning for their voices to be heard from lockdown.
And then we were underway.
To say the first 40 was not quite worth the seven-month wait was an understatement. The Llanelli weather did its worst – one minute blinding sunshine, the next hammering rain, but with wailing winds throughout – meaning the ball was slippy, lineouts were lost, kicks fell wide or long and the spectacle suffered.
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Russell missed the first penalty, maybe distracted by the audible rustling of the bin-bags in the breeze, from a long way out but as if keen to give him another go Wales conspired to concede eight more penalties in the half.
By the time Scotland kicked their second it was Adam Hastings behind the tee, not Finn Russell who took the first, as the starting No 10 went off injured.
Wales did manage to score a try after Fraser Brown threw a lineout long, Ryan Elias gathered it 10 metres from the Scottish line and then eight phases later Rhys Carré bashed over between the posts.
Dan Biggar kicked the conversion, but he looked like he was struggling too. To be honest most were watching this.
Everything about Wales felt decidedly flat. It was Scotland creating their own atmosphere, whooping and hollering their little wins, as Pivac’s men plodded around.
Two minutes into the second half Biggar had to go off too, with Rhys Patchell replacing him. But it was on the floor that Wales were losing their way.
A 10th penalty had Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams gesticulating with arms outstretched to referee Andrew Brace, wondering what on earth they were doing wrong.
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It was quite remarkable really that they still led with 50 minutes on the clock, so disjointed it all looked for Wales.
Wyn Jones came on to sure up the scrum and immediately won a penalty and another quickly followed when Brown checked Williams who was chasing a box-kick. Patchell punted to the corner and Wales built a multi-phase drive, until Will Rowlands ruined it by going off his feet.
By this point it was a dog’s dinner of a game – so little quality and with no one here to enhance it with outbreaks of singing, cheering or corralling it started to feel more and more like a training ground game as it dipped below the standard of some club matches.
The Scots went about their disruptive business but whenever they won the ball back conspired to lose it somehow.
Scotland could have tried a shot at goal from the 13th penalty they were awarded, but went bold and it paid off.
From the lineout McInally was joined by most of the Scottish side in a maul which pretty much ran towards and over the Welsh line to score.
Jonathan Humphreys, Wales’ forwards coach, chucked something up in the socially-distanced stands absolutely furious that his pack had been so emasculated.
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Hastings missed the conversion so Scotland only led by four. Now was Wales’ test. In Cardiff, roof on and roaring, they come back from these positions. Would they with no one in?
Leigh Halfpenny kicked a penalty next to bring them back to one away and on the television the fake crowd started singing Hymns and Arias – too bad none of the players could be buoyed by it.
With 10 minutes to go Jones took a huge glug of his numbered water bottle and went to find referee Brace to try and sort things out for the final stages. The skipper cares far more about results than records, so was as determined as ever to see this one home.
But when substitute Dillon Lewis fell at a scrum to concede penalty number 14, time ticked away for Wales – and with three minutes left they still needed to travel 80 metres to score a winner.
However Jonathan Davies dropped and a 15th Welsh penalty conceded soon after was banged over by Hogg and Scotland had finally rid themselves of their 18-year Welsh curse.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland off limits under lockdown rules .
The First Minister said the prevalence of coronavirus is lower in Scotland than in other parts of the UK.It comes after Wales banned visitors from England last month and Nicola Sturgeon today told Scots not to travel south unless for 'essential purposes.