GARETH DUNCAN reports on Wales’ 24-6 win over Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.
With Wales without a win in their last eight Tests, head coach Warren Gatland made a key change to his startling line-up as James Hook was named at pivot ahead of Stephen Jones. The latter has held monopoly over the No 10 jersey in the past few seasons, seeing Hook feature at inside centre and even fullback. However, Hook’s start at flyhalf paid early dividends for Gatland’s charges.
Hook inspired Wales to a strong start to the match as his break in the in the eighth minute led to wing Shane Williams’ early try. The flyhalf added the extras and kicked another three penalties for a 16-0 lead.
Wales had clear ascendancy over an errant Scotland, but the former suffered a double blow in the second quarter when lock Brad Davies (professional foul) and fullback Lee Byrne (dangerous tackle) were sent to the sin bin in quick succession.
The hosts managed to build some momentum against 13-man Wales but poor handling and ball retention saw them squander several try-scoring opportunities. Wales also defended admirably. Scotland only managed to add three points through flyhalf Dan Parks as the score read 16-3 in the visitors’ favour at half time.
After the restart, Scotland enjoyed early momentum as Wales had a poor start. But like in the first stanza, the home team lacked composure on attack and could only add three points to their tally.
Hook, who struggled to continue his impressive first-half performance, cancelled out Parks’ three-pointer with his fourth penalty before Jones replaced him in the 65th minute. Wales then sealed the win as Williams grabbed his second try thanks to inside centre Jonathan Davies’ chip ahead.