Powell's arrest takes the gloss off Wales finale

Wales 31 Scotland 24

By James Corrigan
Monday 15 February 2010 01:00

The raucous celebrations carried on long into the night in Cardiff on Saturday; apparently far too long and far too raucously for Andy Powell. The Wales and Lions flanker was one of two men arrested at 6am yesterday for allegedly taking a golf buggy from the team hotel and driving it a few miles on the M4 to a service station. This was certainly not the news Warren Gatland would have wanted after seeing his team playing rugby's ultimate "Get Out Of Jail" card at the Millennium Stadium.

Due to Powell's disgrace the headlines will inevitably be negative this morning. Such a shame. Nothing and nobody should have dared overshadow this outrageous finale. The red resurrection has already been labelled "the greatest comeback in the history of international rugby". Over the top? Well consider that Wales were 10 points down with four minutes to go and ended up winning; not by one point, not by two, but by seven. They scored 17 points in the time it takes Scotland coach Andy Robinson to boil a far-from-hard egg. In light of this, the boldest of statements was surely justifiable.

But there was more than the mere gobsmacked about the Scottish reaction. There was genuine anger, too. Phil Godman believes Lee Byrne did a Didier Drogba to win the penalty and force the yellow card which ultimately decided this absorbing contest. "I didn't do anything wrong," said the furious replacement. "I jumped, Byrne chipped over me and he's milked it. The referee was delayed in making his decision. All the Welsh guys threw their hands in the air and he has given the penalty. It was not a trip on my part."

Byrne saw it differently: "I kicked the ball through and Phil left his foot there. If he is going to do that he has to expect to be penalised." Robinson directed his own frustration at the referee, George Clancy. "I'm bitterly disappointed about the penalty," he said. "I've no doubt it wasn't a trip and obviously that's what cost us the game."

Well, yes and no. Even if the Scots are correct in their assertions – and the Welsh camp are adamant they aren't – then they were the architects in their own staggering downfall in so many other respects. If Scott Lawson, the reserve hooker, had not earned a needless yellow card in the 73rd minute then the visitors would have held out. If Chris Cusiter had found touch with the penalty caused by Welsh obstruction allowing Jamie Roberts to cross the whitewash five minutes from time, they would have held out. And even after the Godman "trip" the Scots kept blasting the musket at their own tootsies. It was 24-24 and with time for one more play, Mike Blair could have kicked the ball off the pitch at the restart and the game would have been drawn. He was told by his captain Chris Cusiter to keep play alive. "We wanted to win a penalty and get ourselves back in front," explained Cusiter. "It's easy to say it wasn't the right decision now."

In fairness, Robinson recognised his side's culpability talking about "10 minutes of sheer madness" and saying: "With the last play of the game we committed suicide." They had just 13 men on the pitch and the Dragon's tail was finally up. Ryan Jones had made his own brave captain's call when instructing Stephen Jones to convert the Godman penalty and bring the scores level. "I put my cock on the block and I guess it paid off," was his eloquent description. "I thought let's get the draw, get the pressure off and then pray there was time to score off the last play."

There was and they did. And it merely added to the bizarreness of the spectacle that when Shane Williams was in the process of scoring the winning try he started celebrating a full three metres before the line with a defender still to beat. Afterwards Gatland was quick to call it "the most amazing game I've ever been involved in". In truth, it was almost the most embarrassing.

The fight back means that cracks will inevitably be glossed over, although the size of those cracks is testimony to the brilliance of this gloss. But then, as Williams said: "If that can't turn us around I don't know what can." It will have to be some about-face, however, as France visit a week Friday. Wales will probably be without the loosehead Gethin Jenkins, whose injured calf only lasted nine minutes, and Powell's position will now also come under scrutiny. A police spokesman confirmed two men were arrested and one failed a breath test at the spot roughly three miles from the team hotel, from where the buggy is believed to have been taken. Investigations are ongoing and as of last night no charges had been brought.

Scotland, meanwhile, have two weeks to get over their disappointment, as well as long-term injuries caused to Chris Paterson and, more seriously Thom Evans. They were so good for so long, with their three outstanding back-row Bs – Johnnie Beattie, John Barclay and Kelly Brown – and with Dan Parks enjoying the game of his life at fly-half. "The players are distraught and hurt," said the distraught and hurt Robinson.

Scorers: Wales: Tries Byrne, Halfpenny, S Williams; Conversions S Jones 2; Penalties S Jones 4. Scotland: Tries Barclay, M Evans; Conversions Paterson; Penalties Parks 2; Drop goals: Parks 2.

Wales: L Byrne (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Blues), J Hook (Ospreys), J Roberts (Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), G Cooper (Blues); P James (Ospreys), G Williams (Blues), A Jones (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys), A Wyn Jones (Ospreys), A Powell (Blues), M Williams (Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt). Replacements: R Rees (Blues) for Cooper, 40; H Bennett (Ospreys) for G Williams, 48; G Jenkins (Blues) for James, 48; B Davies (Blues) for Powell, 48; James for Jenkins, 59; S Warburton (Blues) for Warburton, 67.

Scotland: C Paterson (Edinburgh); T Evans (Glasgow), S Lamont (Scarlets), G Morrison (Glasgow), R Lamont (Toulon); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Glasgow, capt); A Dickinson (Gloucester), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton), J Hamilton (Edinburgh), A Kellock (Glasgow), K Brown (Glasgow), J Barclay (Glasgow), J Beattie (Glasgow). Replacements: M Evans (Glasgow) for T Evans, 13-26; M Evans for Paterson, 29; A MacDonald (Edinburgh) for Brown 49-56; A Jacobsen (Edinburgh) for Dickinson, 56; S Lawson (Gloucester) for Ford, 56; P Godman (Edinburgh) for R Lamont, 66; MacDonald for Parks, 77; R Gray (Glasgow) for Hamilton, 77.

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).

Movement in arms and legs for Evans after surgery

After undergoing an operation on his neck on Saturday night, Thom Evans will be released from the University Hospital of Wales later in the week, medical staff hope. The Scotland wing was carried from the Millennium Stadium pitch in the first half following a collision with Lee Byrne and Shane Williams.

"The surgery Thom required went well," said James Robson, the team doctor. "Thom had sustained slippage to one of the vertebrae and that required to be eased back into place. The surgeons are pleased with his progress, Thom has movement in his arms and legs and his family have been to visit him today, as have a number of his Glasgow Warriors team-mates. He will remain at the hospital and if he continues to progress he will be allowed to travel back to Scotland later this week."

Robson also revealed that Chris Paterson will remain under observation at the Cardiff hospital. The full-back, who won his 100th cap against Wales, suffered "a massive bruise in the middle of his kidney" but it will "gradually repair itself". He will not require surgery but will probably be out for 10 to 12 weeks. Another Scotland back, Rory Lamont, will also be monitored by medical staff after suffering knee ligament damage.

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