Wainwright answers call to arms

Clem Thomas sees the Scotland captain produce a heroic display
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The Independent Online
SELDOM could a game have been more entertaining yet only produce one try apiece. This was a match of extraordinary defence with both sides heroically giving their all to prevent anyone crossing their line.

There were heroes in all parts of the field, with Rob Wainwright, the Scottish captain, setting the paramount example to his team. Scotland were, for the most part, under the cosh against a Welsh team which again showed high promise but are still too naive to win, even at home. In the final analysis the Scottish midfield of Gregor Townsend, Scott Hastings and Ian Jardine, were just too strong, clever and creative.

In the ruck the Scots were always far too streetwise and it was always evident that Wales simply had no Wainwright-like figure to answer the call. Wainwright was everywhere and has developed into one of the great back-row forwards of this, or any other, decade. Wainwright said: "I've got to commend the Welsh, who played with an enormous amount of spirit. They probably deserved a draw, if not a win. We will have to have a look at the game and see where we went wrong. We find it tremendously hard to win these games, I'm just glad we came away with a win." Wales captain Jonathan Humphreys said of the Scots: "They're a good side. I think they are going to go on and win the Grand Slam and all the best to them."

Both teams had promised us a party, with bubbling free-flowing rugby - and they delivered. Scotland were full of confidence after wins over the Irish and the French, while Wales were sensing the beginning of a renaissance after their efforts at Twickenham.The expectations were all fulfilled as the game fizzed from the start. That great commentator Bill McLaren told me the night before that the speed of the Welsh ball handling in Friday's practice session was some of the best he had seen for years and, sure enough, the young Welsh guns occasionally produced flashes reminiscent of the glory days of the Seventies.

Scotland also ran the ball with a whirl, guided by the ever-improving Townsend who showed a delightful change of pace. Perhaps the major feature was that, although the zest and the will to run was always evident, the defences were just too well marshalled and tries were as difficult to come by as tickets for the game.

Scotland were on pounds 3,000 a man for the match, while the Welsh were on pounds 2,000. In addition, the Welsh players were on a win bonus of pounds 1,750 each. Surelypulling on of the Welsh jersey in the Five Nations should be motivation enough for any player.

l WRU chairman Vernon Pugh will meet leading clubs in Cardiff tomorrow to try to prevent an English-style threat of a breakaway over money in the now professional game.

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