‘Rusty’ Wales have room to im­prove

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Rugby -

Wales winger Ge­orge North and cen­tre Jonathan Davies scored tries as they earned a scrappy 21-10 vic­tory over Six Na­tions ri­vals Scot­land on Satur­day in the open­ing game of their Novem­ber se­ries.

Full­back Leigh Half­penny kicked three penal­ties and a con­ver­sion as Wales seized on er­rors from the vis­i­tors to claim a sixth win in suc­ces­sion for the first time since 2012.

Hooker Stu­art McI­nally scored the only try for the Scots, who had fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties but could not break down an or­gan­ised home de­fence.

The vic­tory pro­vides a solid, if un­spec­tac­u­lar, start to Wales coach War­ren Gat­land’s fi­nal year in charge as he builds to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Ja­pan. “It’s a start for us,” Gat­land told re­porters. “We were a bit rusty at times. For long pe­ri­ods of the game we were pretty com­fort­able with­out the ball and de­fended well. We scored some nice tries and will be bet­ter for that. Scot­land put us un­der a lot of pres­sure but we de­fended well.”

Half­penny kicked three penal­ties in­side the open­ing 20 min­utes as ref­eree Mathieu Ray­nal from France pun­ished Scot­land for re­peated in­dis­cre­tions in what was a poor open­ing quar­ter.

Af­ter Scot­land had replied with a penalty of their own, earned at the first scrum of the game, Wales pressed home their ter­ri­to­rial su­pe­ri­or­ity with the open­ing try.

The ball moved along the back­line be­fore North burst through the tack­les of Scot­land cen­tres Huw Jones and Alex Dun­bar, and held off an­other de­fender for a fine in­di­vid­ual score and his 34th Test try.

Stop-start first half

Scot­land fin­ished the stop-start first half strongly, though, as McI­nally barged over the try­line to re­duce the home side?s ad­van­tage to 14-10 at the break.

Wales seized the ini­tia­tive early in the sec­ond pe­riod when Davies, play­ing his first test in a year, burst away in the mid­field and ran un­op­posed to the line as the Scot­land de­fence dis­in­te­grated.

Wales were re­duced to 14 play­ers with 11 min­utes to play when re­place­ment hooker El­liot Dee was pe­nalised for re­peated in­fringe­ment from the team and was sent to the sin-bin. Pe­ter Horne thought he had scored a sec­ond try for the Scots when he col­lected a kick be­hind the Wales de­fence, but the Tele­vi­sion Match Of­fi­cial ruled he had knocked on in the act of dot­ting the ball down and Wales were able to se­cure the win.

“The play­ers have worked hard in the last cou­ple of weeks and there’s no doubt we’ve prob­a­bly flat­tened them a lit­tle bit. They might have some heavy legs,” Gat­land said af­ter a limp fin­ish to the game from his side.

Wales handed a de­but to fly­half Jar­rod Evans for the fi­nal min­utes and winger Luke Mor­gan also played his first Test, though he barely had a touch of the ball.

Wales coach War­ren Gat­land said: “We were a bit rusty at times.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.