Following the contest between Wales and Scotland we take a look at how the individual players performed.
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Despite the performance of Rhys Gill against Ireland last week, all of Wales will be delighted to have their talismanic loosehead back in the side. Jenkins made 10 tackles today, and in combination with his turnovers and offloading ability, he makes a formidable front row operator.
The Welsh lineout struggled to fire in the early part of the match, and with such an explosive midfield, good ball of the top is crucial. Elsewhere, the scrum was solid and Bennett offers more than just his throwing, but a hooker will always be judged on the extent to which he hits his men at lineout time.
The ferocity with which Jones attacks the breakdown situation is a joy to behold. He loves the contact and willingly offered himself in the less glamorous aspects of the game.
Back as captain, Jones carried the ball strongly making some good yards at times, particularly in the lead up to the Cuthbert try.
Evans had a solid if unspectacular game, making a good number of tackles and carrying well in close quarters.
An outstanding performance from the blindside who came back into the team in need of a big game in the absence of Sam Warburton. He led the defence extremely well, always making it out of the blocks quickly to close down the space in the Scottish midfield.
Similar to Lydiate in willingness to close the space and get in the faces of the Scottish backs.
The Welsh number 8 appears never to have a bad game, and was particularly effective at the beginning of each half. Faletau’s carrying ability always threatens the gainline, and his fitness and desire showed in a first half where Wales made a total of 97 tackles.
Phillips got better as the game progressed with an excellent offload for Halfpenny’s second try up the short side. However, he was caught in possession a few times in the first half and may have been guilty of holding on the ball a little too long at times. He also may find himself guilty of a few too many pick and go’s, but the physicality of his game is what drives Wales forward when he is playing well.
Without the kicking responsibilities this week, Priestland also grew into the game, and began to fire Jamie Roberts over the gainline much more effectively in the second half. Also, he probed with ball in hand as the game opened up in the latter stages.
An unfortunate early end for the big winger as he went off injured after a solid but relatively quiet game just before the half.
When Wales got their line out sorted in the second half, some good quick ball off the top brought Roberts into the game much more prominently than had previously been the case. He always carries strongly and ran well in broken field.
Davies beats the first tackler more often than not and looked dangerous throughout with ball in hand. He led the umbrella defence and reads the game exceptionally well, as displayed by his big hit on Lee Jones in the first half.
At the end of a week that had been all about George North, Cuthbert really showed himself to be a high quality operator after a relatively subdued display last week. Some massive carries and a good finish for his try capped an excellent display by the Blues winger.
Halfpenny had an excellent game both in attack and defence, scoring two tries and making Scotland pay on all but one occasion with the boot.
Pick of the replacements:
James Hook Perhaps a player who’s utility has worked against him in nailing down a regular starting spot, Hook shows perfectly Wales’ strength in depth and showed some nice touches, particularly the break and offload to Jamie Roberts down the left in the second half. 7.10
Jacobsen started the game reasonably well, but was guilty of white-line fever at the end of a period of Scotland pressure with a poor knock on. The error was indicative of Scotland’s problems near the line, and Jacobsen should have known better.
Ford threw well and carried strongly, making 9 tackles in the game.
Up against Gethin Jenkins, Cross acquitted himself reasonably well after being pinged early for collapsing a scrum. Subbed on 53 minutes for Ed Kalman.
Gray continues to be Scotland’s shining light, making some big carries and performing well at line out time.
Hamilton smashed George North early in the game to remind us of the physicality that the lock brings to the contact and breakdown areas in a decent display.
Strokosch didn’t have his best game today, missing a noticeable tackle on Cuthbert when he broke down the middle, and giving away a penalty for some slightly lazy retreating which, although made to look worse by some canny play from Mike Phillips, could have been avoided.
Outstanding from Rennie today. He carried strongly showing real pace and elusiveness, whilst battling away on the floor making a number of crucial turnovers in key positions on the field.
Not quite the fireworks of last week but another very good performance from Denton. His athleticism and fitness honed on the sevens circuit allows him to get around the park brilliantly, whilst his offloading ability allows Scotland to change the point of their attack most helpfully.
Cusiter’s style is almost the complete opposite to Phillips, which made the contest a particularly interesting one. He had a decent first half providing Laidlaw with some good ball, but an error from kick off at the start of the second half led to a Wales try.
Laidlaw had a decent game and was creative, although an early missed kick and a poor missed touch were unnecessary errors. He may also have overused Denton as a dummy runner to hit players in behind without ever really holding the defence. He was also guilty of the missed tackle in what was, to be fair, a bit of a miss-match against Cuthbert for his try, but took his own well.
It was a shame to see Evans go off so early, as he is always a dangerous player and an exciting man to watch. As a result, it’s hard to offer a rating for such a short cameo.
Lamont started to get his offloading game going a little in the second half and all together, up against the powerhouse Jamie Roberts, will be reasonably pleased with his performance.
Nick De Luca:
Some nice touches from De Luca today but some loose ones too. Most importantly, he was guilty of an arguably unnecessary intervention that led to the first Scottish sin-binning, a decision which really cost his side.
Jones ran well and played intelligently without managing to threaten as much as he would have liked. Not a bad game by any means, particularly in the lead up to the Hogg ‘should have been’ try. The wing also took a few big knocks, particularly from Jamie Roberts close to the line in the closing stages.
Lamont defended very well and made some good aggressive carries, breaking the line and making good metres for his team. However, the second sin bin killed the game for Scotland and he has to take the blame for that.
Pick of the replacements:
Mike Blair This accolade could easily have gone to Hogg who showed spark and looked dangerous, but Blair really upped the pace of the Scottish game and they looked much more threatening after his introduction