Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, believes Finn Russell should have been shown a red card for his first-half challenge on Dan Biggar. The Scotland fly-half was shown a yellow card by Glen Jackson, the New Zealand referee, who endured a tough Six Nations baptism.
Both Gatland and Vern Cotter, the Scotland coach, questioned areas of Jackson’s performance. Cotter was upset that his side were denied two possible tries by the official’s refusal to consult the television referee after first Greig Laidlaw and then Matt Scott had claims to have scored.
Russell took out Biggar as the Welsh fly-half leapt for a high ball. Last year Stuart Hogg was sent off for a late challenge in Cardiff and Gatland suggested there should have been the same call yesterday. Jonathan Davies, the Wales centre, received a yellow card of his own five minutes later for a similar collision with John Beattie as the Scotland No 8 took a high ball.
Scotland vs Wales in pictures
Scotland vs Wales in pictures
1/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Hogg sprints away from the flailing Welsh defence for the game's opening try
2/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Leigh Halfpenny was his usual metronomic self from the kicking tee as Wales game back into the game
3/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Dan Biggar was upended by Scotland's Fin Russell, who was sent to the sin bin as a result
4/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Alex Cuthbert was tackled as Wales looked for a swift response
5/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Rhys Webb scored Wales' first try while Finn Russell was in the sin bin
6/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Jonathan Davies was sent to the sin bin before he popped up with Wales' second try
7/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Liam Williams impressed as a replacement for the concussed George North
8/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Davies' solo try gave Wales an unassailable late lead
9/9 Scotland 23 Wales 26
Geoff Cross looks on dejected as Scotland contemplate yet another defeat to Wales
“My initial reaction was the first one was red,” said Gatland, “but I’m looking at it from a Welsh perspective.
“Probably both sides felt decisions didn’t go their way. I understand that Scotland would have been aggrieved on a couple of scores but so too for us.”
Both Russell and Davies appeared to try to check their challenges but it was too late to stop their momentum from taking them into their opponent in mid-air. A red card for either would have been harsh.
Both coaches struck similar notes: not bad, could do better. Gatland had the win he needed after the chastening defeat by England and was much more satisfied with the Welsh performance.
“There were improvements,” he said. “It’s a relief, more than anything, to get the campaign back on track. We got dragged into a game we didn’t want last week, a slow game. We have to learn how to handle that. Today was a big improvement in opportunities created and moving the ball. It was a step up from last week, definitely.”
While Hogg scored a thrilling try and threatened every time he had ball in hand – no player carried it further – he had a less enjoyable afternoon under the high ball. Scotland struggled to combat a tactic Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny executed to good effect.
“We dominated the air, our kick and reception was excellent,” said Gatland, before praising the home side. “They fought to the end – it’s the toughest Scotland team we’ve faced for some years.”
The Scottish improvement under Cotter, who took over last summer, is obvious in performance, if not yet in terms of results. “There are positive things to take, improvements from Paris,” the New Zealander said. “That is encouraging. But there are areas we do need to work on.
“After scoring our try we went into our shell a little bit. We need to keep attacking. We need to create danger from all situations. Once we started attacking we became a threat. The high balls were something to work on. We need more composure. We will get better.”
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