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Wales too much for 14-man Scotland

Wales kick-started their Six Nations campaign with a comfortable 28-18 victory Scotland at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

But the game will be remember for the dismissal of Scotland lock Scott Murray who kicked out after being late-tackled by Ian Gough.

Murray, the first Scottish player to be red-carded in a Test match since 2002, departed after just 22 minutes, with New Zealand referee Steve Walsh also sin-binning Gough for a late tackle on Murray.

The Scots, cock-a-hoop after beating tournament favourites France last weekend, battled bravely following the loss of their lock but could not stay in touch.

It was a satisfactory Welsh response to their 47-13 drubbing against England at Twickenham last Saturday.

Wales attempted to produce their renowned wide game, and with scrum-half Dwayne Peel the architect of those confident attacking efforts, Scotland were ultimately run to a standstill.

Scotland's defeat means England - who visit Murrayfield when the tournament resumes on February 25 - are Six Nations leaders by two points, and now the only team who could clinch a Grand Slam this season.

Wales, meanwhile, will travel in confident mood to Dublin, where Ireland await in a fortnight.

What a first half! What drama! You could watch many, many halves of Test rugby without seeing one of those incidents, but here we had a penalty try and a sending off in the first half. A red card, no less, with a yellow card limping behind it.

The sending off will be the big talking point as Scott Murray becomes just the second Scot in 135 years to be sent off playing for Scotland. Nathan Hines, also a lock got in before him.

The penalty try came after just five minutes of play, the sending off after 21 minutes.

The outcome was pretty well decided then but it went on with lots of passing, lots of lateral running, some enjoyable tries and lots and lots of substitutions. Eventually it was a game that lost its way and ended with two tries to Scotland in the last minute or so to make the score flattering.

The Wales penalty try came early. It started with a great break by Matthew Watkins at centre. He threw a brilliant pass to his right but Mark Jones was tackled into touch, giving Scotland a line-out five metres from their line. They over threw it and Michael Owen accepted their gift and Wales battered. The ball became unplayable and back they went for a five-metre scrum.

The scrum was reset three times and then Gavin Kerr was penalised for not binding in the scrum

Wales, who had the shove on in the scrum, opted for another scrum. Again they shoved ahead and again Scotland were penalised as the scrum collapsed. This time Bruce Douglas was the player singled out.

Wales opted for another scrum and this time they shoved at speed, and Jason White and Simon Taylor detached to get to the ball, and the referee decided that at that scrum a try was probable and awarded a penalty try.

The sending off was a moment of utter silliness by two experienced players. The ball was going away from a line-out. Scott Murray passed it to his left. Long after he had passed it Ian Gough of Wales tackled him from behind. It was late. Murray ended on his back. His feet were free of Gough, his legs bent upwards, and from that position jerked backwards with his boots into Gough's face. The referee saw it.

He gathered the players with their captains and said, pointing to each player as he mentioned him as "you": "Under the laws of the game, this man [Gough] tackled this player [Murray] late. Unfortunately for you [Murray], you [Murray] retaliated and struck out and kicked him [Gough] in the head. I have no option. You [Murray] are red-cared and you [Gough] are in the sin bin. Penalty against you [Murray]"

A medic is at that stage attending to Gough's face. Murray, remarkably calm, leans in, touches Gough and says that he had not intended to kick him.

It was a sad moment but the Scots got on with the game and nothing untoward happened again in the match.

Doubtless the plethora of substitutions made by Scotland was to keep the energy of the seven forwards up and, to their credit, they were not again pushed about as they were in those opening scrums on their line. Indeed, when they had a five-metre scrum against them in the second half they were able to wheel the scrum and win a put-in for themselves.

After the penalty try, the Scots worked their way back into he game. Bruce Douglas had an astonishing burst for a prop down the left, smashing into a determined tackle by Gareth Thomas. When Wales were off-side Paterson goaled a penalty to make the score 7-3 after 18 minutes.

Haldane Luscombe was off bleeding and Lee Byrne came on. He went to fullback with Gareth Thomas moving into the centre. he was in the centre as Wales attacked right, then left and were going right again in the face of the spread Scottish defence. The Welsh captain chipped on an incline to his right, burst ahead and caught the kick and raced over under the posts. Stephen Jones converted again. In fact he converted each of Wales's four tries.

Just before half-time Paterson goaled a second penalty to make the score 14-6 at the break.

The second half was entertaining but somehow it had an air of unreality. The sending off stayed close to the thoughts and yet Wales, a man up, did not really assert their authority as though some form of guilt or sportsmanship inhibited them. They did not seek domination. Maybe Scottish resolved kept them from domination. The result was many passes, lots of the passing lateral.

Andy Henderson broke for Scotland and they threatened the Welsh line but Robert Sidoli brought off a great tackle on Ali Hogg and the move fizzled out with a pass that went into touch.

Wales's third try started when Scotland were on the attack. Dan Parks chipped but running back Matthew Watkins caught the ball and claimed the mark in front of his posts. He tapped, ran and passed to his right, and suddenly Mark Jones was scorching down the right wing. He kicked long and low ahead where Paterson fielded the ball, but Luscombe swung him into touch for a line-out to Wales seven metres from the Scottish goal-line.

Scotland may well have been expecting a catch and maul but instead Owen played the ball straight down to Peel and the scrumhalf set his men going on the left. Gareth Thomas drove strongly at the posts. The ball came back to Peel who darted and then played inside to Sidoli who plunged over for the try. 21-6 with 26 minutes to play.

Peel had a big hand in the last Welsh try. Paterson tried to ruin a kick back but, tackled, lost the ball forward. Owen was there to pop the ball to Stephen Jones who gave to Peel. The brilliant scrumhalf beat two defenders before giving Gareth Thomas a clear run to the line. Over he went in the left-hand corner.

The benches which had been emptying now emptied as the match's formalities were played out.

Not quite, for the Scots are brave. When Martyn Williams was penalised for a trip in front of the Welsh posts, Chris Cusiter tapped and darted close to the line. The ball came back to Sean Lamont who took three defenders out in a muscular drove and then Gordon Ross flung the ball out to Hugo Southwell on his right and the fullback scored far out. Paterson's conversion hit the woodwork and stayed out.

From the kick-off Wales went on a busy attack down the right and then came back left with a long pass, followed by a longer pass which Paterson accepted and ran three-quarters of the length of the filed for a try at the posts. He converted his try, and the final whistle went.

It was a memorable match for the great resurgence of Wales after the battering of Twickenham, but is more likely to be remembered and enter history as the match in which a great forward was sent off the field.

Man of the Match: Many Scots were energetic and brave, including Mike Blair, Ali Hogg and Bruce Douglas. Perhaps their best player was Sean Lamont who has a great work rate and great confidence. But Wales had outstanding players of their own - Duncan Jones, Robert Sidoli, Gareth Tomas and Matthew Watkins and our Man of the Match Dwayne Peel with so much energy and effective skill.

Moment of the Match: A black moment - the sending off of Scott Murray.

Villain of the Match: Scott Murray obviously and bracketed with him Ian Gough who provoked the untoward retaliation.

The scorers:

For Wales:
Tries: Penalty Try, G Thomas 2, Sidoli
Cons: S Jones 4

For Scotland:
Tries: Southwell, Paterson
Con: Paterson
Pens: Paterson 2

Yellow card(s): Gough (Wales) - late tackle, 21
Red card(s): Murray (Scotland) - retaliation, 21

The teams:

Wales: 15 Gareth Thomas (captain), 14 Mark Jones, 13 Hal Luscombe, 12 Matthew Watkins, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Michael Owen, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Colin Charvis, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Rhys Thomas, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Gareth Delve, 19 Adam M Jones, 20 Michael Phillips, 21 Nicky Robinson, 22 Lee Byrne.

Scotland: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Chris Paterson, 13 Ben McDougall, 12 Andrew Henderson, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Allister Hogg, 6 Jason White (captain), 5 Scott Murray, 4 Alastair Kellock, 3 Bruce Douglas, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Gavin Kerr.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Craig Smith, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Jon Petrie, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Gordon Ross, 22 Simon Webster.

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Eric Darrière (France)
Television match official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)
by ysteio | 2006-02-15 22:13 | Six Nations