First Neil Jenkins who, in contrast to the convulsive uncertainty of his opposite number, had looked a mature and accomplished full-back, came in on the end of a sweeping crossfield move involving Colin Charvis, Ieuan Evans and Gareth Thomas, to score close enough to the posts to convert his own try. From the kick-off the cherubic Arwel Thomas, whose cockiness had previously concealed only his shortcomings at fly-half, had the sheer effrontery to break clean through the middle of the Scottish pack and hare off upfield fending off the flapping tackles of Gary Armstrong and Scott Hastings to race over underneath the posts. It seemed that he might also race over Murrayfield's generous in-goal area so thrilled was he with his achievement, but this was merely a premature lap of honour and he touched down with an inch or two to spare.
Jenkins converted that too and minutes later, to his own and his team's visible disbelief, he was called up again to convert a try, this time by Evans who had pounced on to a mischievously bouncing ball and had left the wretchedly out-of-sorts Rowen Shepherd leaden-footed and rooted to the spot inside his 22. Twenty-one points in five minutes and the game, which up until that point though short of skill was nevertheless a compellingly even contest, was over.
For Scotland the fears which had risen above the parapet during their early season internationals were now fully realised. Yesterday they had taken the field with doubts about the solidity of their scrum, the productivity of their line-out and the reliability of their goal-kicking. They also had concerns over the fitness of their captain and the throwing-in of their new cap Graham Ellis. On one occasion the hooker obviated the need for his jumpers altogether by throwing straight to Armstrong at scrum- half but his inactivity and his obvious difficulty in throwing cannot be blamed for Scotland's defeat. Rob Wainwright is a fine player and an inspirational leader but yesterday he was obliterated by the game's dominant figure, Scott Quinnell.
Add to the Welsh No 8 the crushing power of Allan Bateman and Scott Gibbs in midfield - some of the latter's tackling was on the cusp of legality but its very destructiveness ripped the heart out of the Scottish attack - and the running of Robert Howley, the mix was far too potent for opposition so hopelessly at odds with itself.
It is true that it took the Welsh the whole of the first half and 10 minutes of the second to realise their own strength and the Scots' weaknesses but in commitment, pace and willpower they were in a different class. In the early stages, with both sides feeling their way, the Welsh ball retention left a lot to be desired. Quinnell's charges into the Scottish midfield were not supported in sufficient depth and there was about so much of their play the uncertainty and lack of confidence borne of years of disappointment. They squandered a number of chances, the best when the ball popped up for Charvis who, with a clear run to the line, knocked on.
Throughout this spell, however, Howley's brilliance shone through the gloom of mediocrity and occupied the full attention of the Scottish loose forwards. Midway through the first half there was an ominous sign for Scotland when their scrummage was splintered and the Welsh drove deep into the heart of the opposition defence. Deep into the heart of the opposition 22 the move came to grief not through Scottish defence but through the inability of the Welsh ball carriers to keep hold of the wretched pill. The warning was there though and even at this early stage it was difficult to know where the Scots were going to find the power to quell the Welsh spirit and enthusiasm.
Briefly their hopes rose when, after 27 minutes, and Jenkins and Shepherd having swapped penalties, the Scots broke through. First they stretched the Welsh on the left and then swept right before sending the ball swiftly down the line and, courtesy of Gregor Townsend's mesmerically swatted transfer, Scott Hastings found himself with all the time and space he needed to score after Evans had recklessly committed himself to the tackle. Shepherd converted that and for the shortest of spells the Scots were in the ascendancy.
Eight minutes later the Welsh prodigals return from the league game was confirmed in thrilling fashion. Bateman and Gibbs combined beautifully in midfield to put Quinnell away on a scampering run for the Scottish line and although Chalmers dropped a goal on the stroke of half-time to give the Scots a three-point lead it looked much too fragile to survive long into the second half and even the cushion of Shepherd's second penalty was never going to be enough against the blitz which was about to hit them.
Scotland: R Shepherd (Melrose); T Stanger (Hawick), S Hastings (Watsonians), G Townsend (Northampton), K Logan (Stir ling County); C Chalmers (Melrose), G Armstrong (Newcastle); D Hilton (Bath), G Ellis (Currie), M Stewart (Northampton), D Weir (Newcastle), A Reed (Wasps), P Walton (Northampton), R Wainwright (Watsonians, capt), M Wallace (Glasgow High/Kelvinside). Replacements: S Munro (GHK) for Reed, 54; D Stark (Melrose) for Chalmers, 77.
Wales: N Jenkins (Pontypridd), I Evans (Llanelli), A Bateman (Richmond), S Gibbs (Swansea), G Thomas (Bridgend), A Thomas (Swansea), R Howley (Cardiff), C Loader (Swansea), J Humphreys (Cardiff, capt), D Young (Cardiff), G Llewellyn (Harlequins), M Rowley (Pontypridd), S Williams (Neath), S Quinnell (Richmond), C Charvis (Swansea). Replacements: C Quinnell (Richmond) for Rowley, 68; G Jones (Cardiff) for Charvis, 75; J Davies (Cardiff) for Gibbs replaced, 78.
Referee: B Smith (Ireland).Reuse content