Dragons down Bravehearts

Wales were able to hold on for a 26-13 win as they saw off a spirited second-half fightback from Scotland at Murrayfield.

Despite going to sleep in the final third of the game, the Welsh were superior in all facets. They reduced the Scottish scrum to a pile of bodies on numerous occasions and were clinical at the breakdown and had it not been for some poor goal-kicking the scoreline could have been more one sided.

Man of the Match Jamie Roberts cut the Scottish defence in half regularly, but Wales took their foot off the gas when the result appeared secure and a yellow card for captain Martyn Williams let the Scots back in the game.

Wales started well and dominated both territory and possession early on, battering the Scottish defensive line with powerful surges from the likes of captain Williams and Andy Powell, before spreading the ball wide to Shane Williams and the impressive Lee Byrne.

Scotland winger Simon Webster came out on the wrong end of a fearsome tackle on the Welsh skipper. Webster look to have recovered, but would later leave the field suffering from the side effects of the blow.

The pressure finally paid off for Wales in the 12th minute when they destroyed the Scotland scrum and were awarded a penalty which Stephen Jones slotted with ease.

Scotland were then reduced to 14 men when Geoff Cross was yellow carded for taking Byrne out in the air. Cross, though, was stretchered off after he came off worse and would eventually be replaced by Alasdair Dickinson.

After the injury delay, Wales made their numerical advantage count immediately as veteran centre Tom Shanklin finished off a well worked attacking move, but Jones missed the conversion.

Wales extended their lead when, deep in the Scot’s half, they decimated the Scotland scum yet again and Williams pounced on the loose ball and shipped it to Jones who crossed the advantage line but was brought down just short. The ball was then spread wide to Alun Wyn Jones who used his strength to hold off a defender and dot the ball down for the five points. Once again Jones failed with the conversion.

Scotland continued to remain positive in attack and finally registered their first points when they were awarded a penalty and replacement Chris Paterson made no mistake. They then came within inches of scoring before the ball was eventually held up, but from the resulting scrum the Scottish pack were again humiliated as Powell came away with the ball and marauded up field.

With time up in the first half Scotland were foolish to give away a penalty for infringing at the breakdown and Jones added the three points to give his side a 13-point lead at the break.

Wales came out of the blocks in the second half determined to put the result beyond any doubt and scored just seconds after the break when Jamie Roberts burst through  the Scottish defence. The ball was then recycled and spread out wide where IRB Player of the Year Shane Williams fed Leigh Halfpenny with a sublime pass and the youngster did the rest.

The defending champions were relentless and gave Scotland little time to recuperate as they hit them with wave upon wave of attack and when the Scots were able to get anything going, they were more then often left frustrated by handling errors.

Paterson added a second penalty, but Wales hit back when Williams finally got his name on the scoreboard in the 58th minute after Roberts burst through a gap in Scotland’s defence, and when the ball was eventually sent wide Williams finished with ease.

Jones again missed the conversion and Halfpenny took over the kicking duties, but it failed to change anything as the winger missed his first penalty attempt.

Wales were reduced to 14 men when captain Williams was sent to the bin for a deliberate knock down. Scotland took advantage of their extra man when a great lineout saw the ball end up in the hands of replacement Max Evans who evaded the tackle of Williams with a lovely step to score his first international try.

The Scots gave it their all with time running out, but in the end the defending champions managed to hold on for the win.

Scotland - Tries : Max Evans, Conversions: Chris Paterson. Penalties : Paterson (2).
Wales -Tries : Tom Shanklin, Alun Wyn Jones, Leigh Halfpenny, Shane Williams. Penalties : Stephen Jones (2).