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Finn Russell hails Scotland for ‘holding tough’ to resist wild Wales fightback

It was a first victory in Cardiff since 2002 for Scotland after a Guinness Six Nations thriller.

Andrew Baldock
Sunday 04 February 2024 11:00 GMT
Finn Russell captained Scotland to Six Nations success against Wales (Joe Giddens/PA)
Finn Russell captained Scotland to Six Nations success against Wales (Joe Giddens/PA)

Scotland captain Finn Russell reflected on a range of emotions after his team ended their Cardiff hoodoo by thwarting an astonishing Wales fightback at the Principality Stadium.

A nerve-shredding 27-26 victory was Scotland’s first win in the Welsh capital since 2002, but it did not come before they were left staring at a 12th successive defeat as Wales threatened arguably the greatest Six Nations recovery act.

Having helped orchestrate a 27-point lead two minutes into the second half, Russell could have been excused for thinking it was a case of job done.

But Wales had other ideas, scoring four tries during 20 minutes of mayhem that included yellow cards for Scotland pair George Turner and Sione Tuipulotu, transforming what had been a hopelessly one-sided encounter.

Scotland also conceded 14 successive penalties, such was the ferocity and unrelenting nature of Wales’ all-court game.

Just when it was required, though, Scotland showed courage and composure during the closing minutes to dominate territory and go close to claiming a bonus-point fourth try.

“We had a really good first half and a brilliant start to the second, then a bit of complacency crept in,” Russell said.

“We had discipline issues in the second half which led to two yellow cards and them really getting on the front foot.

“But it showed that we’ve come quite a long way that we managed to win the game in the end. We held tough and did not allow them to get anything towards the end.

“I am probably a little bit disappointed with the second half, but overall it is a great start to the tournament for us. We’ve not won here in 22 years.

“We managed to dig it out in the end, but it shows how tough a place it (Cardiff) is to come. Wales never went away, and that was the pressure the team put us under, but also that the crowd getting involved.

“I’ve played in games with Scotland like that when we have lost, and that was the most pleasing thing, that we managed to find a way to win even though momentum, the crowd, everything was against us towards the end.

“There was loads of good stuff in that first half. With the way everything unfolded in the second half, I am a little bit down, a little bit frustrated, but when we look back there will be loads of positives to take.

“It (the second-half performance) was nowhere near where we need to be. But that is something we will address on Monday and we will build on the back of it and get ready for France (next weekend).”

Les Bleus will arrive at Murrayfield following a crushing defeat against Ireland, and Scotland can also take heart from beating France five times out of the last seven attempts in Edinburgh.

Richie and the medics knew straight away it was a biceps injury. So that doesn’t look good for this Championship

Gregor Townsend

Their mission, though, will be undertaken without lock Richie Gray, who could miss the rest of this season’s Six Nations due to a biceps injury.

And flanker Luke Crosbie is a major doubt after hurting his shoulder, with Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend stating: “Both are in a lot of pain.

“Richie and the medics knew straight away it was a biceps injury. So that doesn’t look good for this Championship.

“Luke was a shoulder injury. It’s a painful one and that might settle. Let’s hope he has not done any significant damage there.”

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