Gatland revels in fighting spirit after Scots fold under pressure

Scotland 6 Wales 24
Click to follow
The Independent Online

It was time for the Welsh players and their head coach to pack their bags in the bowels of Scotland's national stadium after their successful Saturday tea-time shift in the west end of Edinburgh. After eleven months and eight matches without a win, everything was hunky dory again for Warren Gatland and his team.

"It's been a test for us all," Gatland said, reflecting on the barren run, "but you've got to keep a bit of humour. When the boys put on David Bowie's [and Queen's] 'Under Pressure' on the bus yesterday, you had to smile and laugh. I haven't been able to get that song out of my head."

It remains to be seen whether those gallows humour jokers in the Welsh pack, or backline for that matter, prove to be heroes just for one day. Still, their efforts have earned their head coach a bit of slack. Gatland will not have a noose around his neck when he takes his squad to Rome on Saturday week.

For that, the former All Black hooker has a sorry Scotland team to thank as much as the improvement shown by his own bunch of players. The visitors effectively had victory in the bag by the 22nd minute, when James Hook swung his right boot to put Wales 16-0 up with his third penalty success. It took one bit of magic from Hook, playing his first international at outside-half for two years, to make Scotland's resistance disappear. His jinking dart from the 22 metre line teed up Shane Williams for the first of the veteran wing's two tries.

It was an impressive piece of trickery from the Perpignan-bound Osprey but it helped that the home ranks played defensive statues. It was also rather generous of the Scotland pack to concede possession at the scrum that led to the eighth-minute score. It was another painful 80 minutes at scrum time for the Scots and a blank one from them on the try front.

They failed to find a cutting edge even when Wales were reduced to 13 men towards the end of the first-half after lock Bradley Davies and full-back Lee Byrne were dispatched to the pitch-side cooler within four minutes of one another.

All Scotland could manage on the scoring front was a Dan Parks penalty in each half. "We've gone back a couple of steps," Andy Robinson lamented at the end of a week in which he signed a three-and-a-half year contract extension as Scotland's head coach. "We made too many errors, particularly in those first 20 minutes. That is unacceptable, what happened today."

Wales were in charge at the breakdown, where Sam Warburton distinguished himself at No 7. Then there was the finishing school stuff from Shane Williams, who was on to a chip from Jonathan Davies for his second score before you could say Jack – or even Andy – Robinson.

The pocket-sized poacher now has 53 tries for his country, 22 of them in what was formerly the Five Nations and International Championship – two short of the all-time record held by Ian Smith, the Aussie-born Scotland wing of the 1920s and 1930s.

"The boys really fronted up," Gatland said. "You're going to come under a bit of pressure and it's about showing your character and responding to that."

Scotland: Pens Parks 2. Wales: Tries Williams 2. Con Hook. Pens Hook 4.

Scotland: H Southwell (Stade Français); N Walker (Ospreys), N De Luca (Edinburgh), M Evans (Glasgow Warriors); D Parks (Cardiff Blues), R Lawson (Gloucester); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton), N Hines (Leinster), A Kellock (Glasgow, capt), K Brown (Saracens), J Barclay (Glasgow), R Vernon (Glasgow).

Replacements: S Lamont (Scarlets) for Southwell, 21; M Low (Glasgow) for Murray, 47; M Blair (Edinburgh) for R Lawson, 47; S Lawson (Gloucester) for Ford, 67; S MacLeod (Edinburgh) for Kellock, 71.

Wales: L Byrne (Ospreys); M Stoddart (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Ospreys); J Hook (Ospreys), M Phillips (Ospreys); P James (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets, capt), C Mitchell (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys). Replacements: J Thomas (Ospreys) for Lydiate, 54; S Jones (Scarlets) for Hook, 67; R Hibbard (Ospreys) for Rees, 70; J Turnbull (Scarlets) for AW Jones, 72; T Knoyle (Scarlets) for Phillips, 76; R Prestland (Scarlets) for Byrne, 76.

Referee G Clancy (Ireland).

The match statistics


Scotland 0 Tries Wales 2

Scot 0/0 Conversions Wales 1/2

Scotland 2/3 Penalties Wales 4/5

Scotland 1/1 Drop goals Wales 0/1

Phases of play

Scotland 0 Scrums won Wales 6

Scotland 1 Scrums lost Wales 0

Scot 11 Line-outs won Wales 8

Scotland 0 Line-outs lost Wales 2

Scotland 9 Pens conceded Wales 12

Scotland 4 Mauls won Wales 3

Scot 20 Ruck and drive Wales 15

Scot 77 Ruck and pass Wales 53Team statistics

Scot 199 Passes made Wales 107

Scotland 1 Line breaks Wales 3

Scot 25 Possession kicked Wales 27

Scotland 3 Kicks to touch Wales 4

Scot 83 Tackles made Wales 117

Scot 6 Tackles missed Wales 14

Scot 16 Offloads in tackle Wales 3

Scot 19 Total errors made Wales 8

Ball won

Scot 101 In open play Wales 71

Scot 39 In opponent's 22 Wales 14

Scotland 23 At set-pieces Wales 23

Scotland 1 Turnovers won Wales 1