Rugby Union / Five Nations' Championship: Scots power home

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Scotland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Wales. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

WINNING is one thing. The winning habit is something entirely different, and as Wales discovered so painfully at Murrayfield yesterday, a lot more difficult to acquire. The Bread of Heaven, which was so plentiful in Cardiff a fortnight ago, was nowhere to be seen or heard. But then it is perhaps unwise to overfeed those who have been as close to starvation as Welsh rugby followers have these past few years. And, on the evidence of this display, the famine is not yet over.

Wales were, for long periods in the first half and for most of the second, a disorganised rabble, tactically incoherent, technically incompetent and individually inept. It was 20 minutes into the second half before Ieuan Evans, the hero of Cardiff, first touched the ball. The Scots, in contrast, possessed the qualities which Wales most lacked - organisation and leadership.

In respect of the latter, Gavin Hastings, an outrageous talent blended with those imperfections which constitute genius, was at the centre of the day's most memorable events. Having missed five kicks out of six in the flat calm of Parc des Princes a fortnight ago, he was successful with five out of seven penalties in the gale-force conditions at Murrayfield. But more, much more, than that, he was defensively solid and an inspiration in attack - one swashbuckling switch of direction all but leading to a try for the hugely impressive Andy Reed.

That the Scots, with more than twice the amount of possession, much of it from the line-out, and latterly a veritable torrent from the loose, were restricted to only one try does at least speak volumes for the resolve of the Welsh defence. Admittedly they were helped in their unenviable task by a lack of incisive running in the Scottish midfield, coupled with some untidy passing which could not all be blamed on the wind. Had these other strands been woven into the Scottish play then the rout would have become a massacre.

Gary Armstrong had by his own standards a patchy day with his passing, but when it came to the total destruction of the Welsh back row - who had laid elaborate pre-match plans to stop him - the Scottish scrum-half was in a class of his own. He bobbed, bounced and eventually tore the heart out of the Welsh. One glorious sprint down the left-hand touchline in the second half left opponents gasping in his wake.

Armstrong was, of course, fed almost to overflowing with possession from the line-out, maul and ruck, and although there were times, particularly in the first half, when one questioned the wisdom of the Scottish tactics with the wind at their backs, there could be no doubting that their display in the second half was quite superb.

They succeeded in harnessing the wind in a way that the Welsh, whose tactical plan revolved around Neil Jenkins, manifestly failed to do. Jenkins is, no doubt, a worthy performer at club level but he is no more than a journeyman fly-half and as such out of his depth at international level.

Few of the Welsh advanced their cause or enhanced their claims to a place on the Lions' tour next summer, although Gareth Llewellyn, who won what little line-out ball was going under the forgiving eye of Joel Dume, was an exception.

It would, however, have been uncharitable to deny the Welsh their few moments of success, which was quite clearly the view taken by the French referee. The burden of expectation on them after their victory over England was doubtless crushing, but now it is back to the drawing board, if they can find it.

The Scots, who had been given the wind in the first half (always a doubtful tactic for the side winning the toss) tore into the early rucks and mauls as if their lives depended upon it. Both Derek Stark and Gavin Hastings were stopped short of the line before the full-back kicked his first penalty when the Welsh were caught offside.

With Reed, Damien Cronin, Doddie Weir and the splendid Derek Turnbull controlling the floating ball in the line-out and with the Wales hooker Nigel Meek fighting a losing battle with the wind on his throw-ins, Scotland had taken seven line-outs before Wales got off the ground.

Hastings kicked his second penalty when Wales were offside at a ruck, and there followed a brief period when the Welsh loose forwards came into their own. It ended when Tony Copsey was penalised for a quite senseless act of brutality and Hastings extended the Scottish lead with his third penalty. But as insulation against any possible Welsh counter in the second half, the Scots needed a try.

Mike Rayer, whose reaction to a cross-field kick was lamentably slow, was bundled into touch on the Welsh line. Cronin took a clean catch in the line-out and the Scots drove over the line. Mr Dume, poorly placed to see what had happened, appeared to have made up his mind on a five-metre scrummage, but when the bodies emerged from the tangled wreckage, he awarded the try to Turnbull and to Scotland. Hastings missed the conversion but the Scots turned into the wind with a 14-point lead - well prepared to dig in for 40 minutes of defending.

Instead, with Hastings kicking another two penalties and their forwards in total control, they enjoyed 40 minutes of almost continuous attacking.

SCOTLAND: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); A Stanger (Hawick), S Hastings (Watsonians), A Shiel (Melrose), D Stark (Boroughmuir); C Chalmers (Melrose), G Armstrong (Jed-Forest); P Wright (Boroughmuir), K Milne (Heriot's FP), P Burnell (London Scottish), A Reed (Bath), D Cronin (London Scottish), D Turnbull (Hawick), G Weir (Melrose), I Morrison (London Scottish).

WALES: M Rayer (Cardiff); I Evans (Llanelli, capt), M Hall (Cardiff), S Gibbs (Swansea), W Proctor (Llanelli); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Jones (Swansea); R Evans (Llanelli), N Meek (Pontypool), H Williams-Jones (South Wales Police), G Llewellyn (Neath), A Copsey (Llanelli), E Lewis (Llanelli), S Davies, R Webster (both Swansea).

Referee: J Dume (France).

Scores: G Hastings (pen, 5 min, 3-0); G Hastings (pen, 22 min, 6-0); G Hastings (pen, 28 min, 9-0); Turnbull (try, 38 min, 14-0); G Hastings (pen, 50 min, 17-0); G Hastings (pen, 62 min, 20-0)

----------------------------------------------------------------- FIVE NATIONS STANDINGS ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Scotland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 2 0 1 38 14 4 France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 2 0 1 47 25 4 England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 1 0 1 25 25 2 Wales. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 1 0 1 10 29 2 Ireland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 0 0 2 9 36 0 ----------------------------------------------------------------- To be played: 6 March: England v Scotland (Twickenham); Wales v Ireland (Cardiff). 20 March: France v Wales (Paris); Ireland v England (Dublin). -----------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)

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