Scotland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
AS LONG as Wales - meaning not just the team but the entire, exultant country - appreciate that a victory over moderate opponents was a decent beginning and not an end in itself, then this might even come to be seen as the most significant performance of the 1994 Five Nations.
On the other hand this may simply be another false dawn, or the wishful thinking of the Welsh and, goodness knows, there has been enough of that. Pride came before a fall when Wales squeaked a win against England a year ago and then lost to everyone else. It is imperative that the same trap is now sidestepped by Ieuan Evans and his team.
Evans does have a nifty sidestep. 'It's sometimes very difficult to prevent the Welsh rugby public erupting into euphoria as they did against England last year,' he admitted. 'Obviously we will keep our feet squarely on the ground
because our next game is going to be extremely difficult. If we in the squad show our determination to be realistic, we would hope that would be transferred into the thoughts of the Welsh public as well.'
So forget the deflowering of Scotland right now and concentrate on the Irish on 5 February. As captain, coach and manager were saying much the same thing last February, it will be easier said than done; in Welsh rugby emotional peaks are Himalayan, emotional troughs subterranean.
This time there is a difference, though. All that mattered to the Welsh when they played England was that they won, no matter how. What clearly mattered on Saturday was not simply victory but that it be gained with skill and joy in accordance with the truism that there remains vast innate talent in the game here, with artistry appropriate to a renaissance.
In the filthiest conditions imaginable the 1993 wooden-spoonists played with good sense and rare (for them) tactical aptitude, going back to basics, as it were, and catching the Scots with their trews down by somehow getting the sodden ball wide for each of their tries.
Once the forwards had expunged the tension from their systems with an early brawl, Scotland were outplayed everywhere bar the line-out - and even there their successes came at the grievous cost of vital loose ball after Iain Morrison, his left tibia and fibula broken, had been replaced by Doddie Weir.
They turned over possession in the tackle with a profligacy more common to the Welsh, and, with no Scott Hastings, it was not until Gregor Townsend moved to stand- off on Craig Chalmers's departure that there was any possibility of back-line penetration. 'The biggest single fault we had was our ball-
retention in contact; two of the Welsh tries came from us having possession and losing it,' Douglas Morgan, the Scotland coach, complained.
If ever there was a lesson from the Scots' record rout by New Zealand, this was it, but in rain and mud Morgan's players were utterly unable to put into practice what they had had to learn eight weeks earlier.
No such problems for Wales, who had recuperated from their own home sickness, a last-kick defeat by Canada 10 days before the Murrayfield match. With the re
instated Phil Davies acting as an amalgam of icon and beacon, there was a nice balance between driving, kicking and passing, people actually doing the right thing at the right time for a change.
'It's certainly the performance I needed,' Alan Davies said, reflecting for an intensely personal moment the implication defeat would have had for his continued tenure as coach. Emyr Lewis, the flanker, went so far as to say later on Welsh- language TV: 'We were playing for Wales and for Alan Davies.'
Now it is Morgan who knows the feeling - not of his position being under threat but of the intractability of failure. In its way this result, exaggerated though it was by two of the Welsh tries coming in the final couple of minutes, was as bad as the one against New Zealand.
Where the many changes Wales had made worked well, the Scots' made precious little difference and when refereeing decisions went against them as well - most obviously Patrick Robin's disallowing of a valid Townsend drop goal - their number was up.
Gavin Hastings landed a penalty in each half from six attempts and that was it, his throwaway remark that it was 'all part of life's rich tapestry' carrying fatalism to the ultimate degree. And if, as the Scots suggested, the margin was unkind, Wales did no other than their fondly remembered Seventies' predecessors by remorselessly building an advantage and then ruthlessly ramming it home at the end.
The figures make the point. Aided by changed scoring values, Wales equalled their biggest winning margin over Scotland, scored more points than they have in any championship match since 1976, conceded fewer than since 1980 and enjoyed their biggest win since 1979. They had not scored as many as three tries in a Five Nations match since the second leg of the 1988 Triple Crown, coincidentally against Scotland.
The three followed Jenkins's four first-half penalties, Mike Rayer scoring the first two after replacing Nigel Walker on the left wing. It took 15 minutes to persuade Walker, delirious after being badly concussed trying to tackle Tony Stanger, to leave the touchline for the dressing-room and in view of subsequent events his reluctance was understandable.
Rayer, usually a full-back, was the final recipient in movements more suitable for clement weather and finally Evans outstripped Hastings in pursuit of Nigel Davies's perfectly perceptive diagonal kick. It was glorious stuff, each try a
reminder of past glories and future possibilities.
The same could not be said of Scotland. On the day Wales play in Dublin, England go to Murrayfield, incentive enough for the Scots to rouse themselves, if they are good enough. 'I would be surprised if the Scottish players can't raise their game against England,' Hastings suggested. The Scotland captain also said he had been around a long time, so nothing should surprise him.
Wales: Tries Rayer 2, I Evans; Conversion N Jenkins; Penalties N Jenkins 4. Scotland: Penalties Hastings 2.
WALES: A Clement (Swansea); I Evans (Llanelli, capt), M Hall (Cardiff), N Davies (Llanelli), N Walker (Cardiff); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Moon; R Evans (Llanelli), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), P Davies (Llanelli), Gareth Llewellyn (Neath), E Lewis, S Quinnell, M Perego (Llanelli). Replacement: M Rayer (Cardiff) for Walker, 11.
SCOTLAND: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); A Stanger (Hawick), G Townsend (Gala), I Jardine, K Logan (Stirling County); C Chalmers (Melrose), A Nicol (Dundee HSFP); P Wright (Boroughmuir), K Milne (Heriot's FP), P Burnell (London Scottish), N Edwards (Northampton), S Munro (Glasgow High / Kelvinside), D Turnbull (Hawick), R Wainwright (Edinburgh Academicals), I Morrison (London Scottish). Replacements: G Weir (Melrose) for Morrison, 19; D Wyllie (Stewart's Melville FP) for Chalmers, 54.
Referee: P Robin (France).
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