Welsh wizards rip Scotland apart to set up Grand Slam

Scotland 22 Wales 46
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Rumour had it Mike Ruddock and his boys were preparing to catch a late Tardis from Edinburgh Airport last night. After their first-half blitz through time and space yesterday, the Wales team and their coach are 80 minutes away from releasing their hallowed national sport from the shackles of the golden 1970s - and landing it in a glorious Grand-Slamming present.

Fittingly enough, they advanced towards Ireland's visit to the Millennium Stadium next Saturday - their chance for a first Slam since 1978 - with a barrage of points that eclipsed another success from the 1970s, a 35-12 win at Murrayfield in 1972, as the record Welsh win against Scotland. They also conjured a score of magical handling not too far removed from the Barbarians classic famously finished by Gareth Edwards at the Arms Park in 1973.

The touches were of such slickness you half expected the Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemmon to pop up and slam-dunk the ball over the crossbar. In fact, it was Ryan Jones who applied the scoring finish under the Scottish posts, after launching the attacking thrust of the move and shipping the ball onwards through four assured pairs of Welsh hands: those belonging to Kevin Morgan, Rhys Williams, Gethin Jenkins and Martyn Williams.

It was truly stunning, with just three minutes and 10 seconds on the clock, and it was followed by similar stuff as Wales ran in six tries in the opening 49 minutes, before taking their feet off the pedal and allowing Scotland the hollowest of second-half fightbacks.

"We started where we finished in Paris," Ruddock reflected. "We were exhilarating at times. Great tempo. Great pace. Fair play to Scotland, though. They were superb in the second half. We lost our way a little bit."

Ruddock will be well advised to issue his players with superglued ear-plugs. Then again, they will probably hear so much this week about the last Welsh Slam - about Phil Bennett's brace and Edwards' farewell - that erasing the 16-7 win against France which completed the 1978 clean sweep as the standard historical reference point for Welsh rugby will be incentive enough for them to see off the Irish on Saturday.

"We have a big job next week," Ruddock said. "We won't ease off now. All the hype will go on elsewhere. There will not be any inside the camp. Ireland will be more dangerous now that they have lost to France."

They will assuredly pose a greater threat than the Scots. A long pass the Glasgow fly-half Dan Parks chose to fling wildly along the Welsh 22-metre line found Rhys Williams, who had time to stop for a picnic as he strolled to the Scottish line.

Parks is known to his friends as "Compass", apparently from the global wanderlust of his youth, but the native Australian was a man without bearings until his merciful half-time substitution. Not that he was the only home player in a state of disorientation.

Stephen Jones surged through a gap the size of the Gobi Desert before feeding Shane Williams for his 24th try in 28 internationals. Scotland were 21-0 down after 14 minutes and the home line was breached twice more before the interval, Kevin Morgan bagging a pair of tries - the first courtesy of the charging Tom Shanklin, the second thanks to Dwayne Peel's long, looping run from the rear of a scrum.

The sparky Peel was the fulcrum of much of the mayhem inflicted on the Scots and his quick tap supplied Rhys Williams' second score, nine minutes into the second half. It got decidedly surreal thereafter, Andy Craig, Rory Lamont and Chris Paterson all crossing the Welsh line before Stephen Jones had the final say, dispatching a close-range penalty. Now Jones and his colleagues have their chance of a final say in Cardiff - in a Millennium Stadium fit for new age Grand-Slammers.

SCOTLAND: C Paterson (Edinburgh); R Lamont (Glasgow), A Craig (Glasgow), H Southwell (Edinburgh), S Lamont (Glasgow); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Borders); T Smith (Northampton), G Bulloch (Glasgow, capt), G Kerr (Leeds), S Grimes (Newcastle), S Murray (Edinburgh), S Taylor (Edinburgh), J Petrie (Glasgow), A Hogg (Edinburgh). Replacements: B Douglas (Borders) for Kerr, h-t; N Hines (Edinburgh) for Grimes, h-t; G Ross (Leeds) for Parks, h-t; M Blair (Edinburgh) for Cusiter, 44; A Henderson (Glasgow) for Craig, 76.

WALES: K Morgan (Newport-Gwent Dragons); R Williams (Cardiff Blues), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), G Henson (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), S Williams (Neath-Swansea Ospreys); S Jones (Clermont Auvergne), D Peel (Llanelli Scarlets); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), M Davies (Gloucester), A Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), B Cockbain (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), R Sidoli (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), M Owen (Newport-Gwent Dragons, capt). Replacements: H Luscombe (Newport-Gwent Dragons) for Shanklin, 8-16, for R Williams, 68; J Yapp (Cardiff Blues) for A Jones, 63; J Thomas (Neath-Swansea Ospreys) for Cockbain, 70: C Sweeney (Newport-Gwent Dragons) for Henson, 75.

Referee: J Kaplan (South Africa).