WEIR ON OUR WAY

WALES 21 SCOT­LAND 10: BIG MATCH RE­PORT & RE­AC­TION IN TO­DAY’S SPORT PULL­OUT

Wales On Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - ROB LLOYD Rugby Cor­re­spon­dent [email protected]­line.co.uk

WALES en­joyed a rare vic­to­ri­ous start to an au­tumn cam­paign, with tries from Ge­orge North and Jonathan Davies ex­tend­ing their dom­i­nance over Scot­land in Cardiff.

Alun Wyn Jones lifted the Dod­die Weir Cup af­ter a de­served tri­umph for the home side, who bossed the phys­i­cal bat­tle and were clin­i­cal when their chances arose.

The match wasn’t close to be­ing a clas­sic and was punc­tu­ated by the whis­tle of French ref­eree Mathieu Ray­nal.

But head coach War­ren Gat­land will be con­tent with the win – the first time Wales have won an au­tumn se­ries opener since 2002.

Three Leigh Half­penny penal­ties and a well-taken try from North helped Wales into a 14-10 lead at the break.

A try from a driv­ing line-out for skip­per Stu­art McI­nally had kept Scot­land in it just be­fore half-time, but a slick back­line move put cen­tre Davies away for the match-win­ning score in front of a crowd of 63,188.

The Scots of­fered lit­tle in at­tack and Gat­land will be aware that Aus­tralia will present dif­fer­ent threats in Cardiff next week, but this was a de­cent start for Wales.

Here, Rob Lloyd looks at the main talk­ing points.

DAN LY­DI­ATE IS FIRMLY PART OF THE BIG BACK-ROW DE­BATE

THE Ospreys blind­side had spo­ken of mak­ing a fresh start for Wales af­ter a cou­ple of sea­sons plagued by in­jury.

The last of his 62 Wales caps had come against South Africa last au­tumn and, while he was in­jured, he has seen the likes of Aaron Shin­gler, El­lis Jenk­ins and Josh Na­vidi stake im­pres­sive claims for a reg­u­lar spot in Gat­land’s back row.

Had it not been for in­juries, Ly­di­ate might not have even made this au­tumn squad, but against Scot­land, the Lion showed why he has been such a big favourite of Gat­land over the years.

He was a stonewall pres­ence on the gain­line, hit­ting Scot­tish at­tack­ers back­wards, was phys­i­cal with ball in hand and won an early turnover at the break­down, of­ten slow­ing down the vis­i­tors’ ball.

When he left the field fol­low­ing El­liot Dee’s 70th-minute sin-bin­ning, he had made 21 tack­les with­out a miss.

Ly­di­ate was beaten to the man-ofthe-match award by his re­gional team-mate Justin Tipuric – no­body could have ar­gued if it had gone to the other Ospreys back-rower.

GARETH AN­SCOMBE PUT A MARKER DOWN

WHO will be Wales’ start­ing fly-half in Japan next year is any­one’s guess at the mo­ment, but in a match that has been billed as the start of the World Cup jour­ney, Gareth An­scombe put in an im­pres­sive early marker.

There had been a lit­tle bit of pres­sure on the Cardiff Blues pivot go­ing into the game in only his fourth start in his pre­ferred No.10 jer­sey. But he fin­ished it in the pos­i­tive. There were a cou­ple of er­rors he will be frus­trated with, but he mixed his game up in­tel­li­gently, with a smart chip through al­most lead­ing to a North first-half score.

It was also his well-timed pass that put Scar­lets cen­tre Davies away for Wales’ sec­ond of the match.

It was in­ter­est­ing to see Rhys Patchell, who has been suf­fer­ing con­cus­sion is­sues in the last few weeks, part of Wales’ pre-match warm-up and, with Dan Big­gar link­ing up with the squad ahead of next week’s Test with the Wal­la­bies, it will be in­trigu­ing to see if Gat­land gives An­scombe an­other run or of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to one of his ri­vals.

A TALE OF TWO WINGERS

IT was an af­ter­noon of con­trast­ing for­tunes for the two Ospreys fly­ers.

Ge­orge North was a ma­jor weapon for Wales, how­ever, on the op­po­site side of the field debu­tant Luke Mor­gan was a vir­tual spec­ta­tor.

North took his first-half score bril­liantly, shrug­ging off both Scot­land cen­tres on the way to his 34th try for his coun­try, which took him above Ieuan Evans into third on his own in the all-time Wales try-scor­ing charts.

Ear­lier, he had a touch­down chalked off af­ter put­ting a foot in touch while gather­ing a cross-field chip from An­scombe.

As for Mor­gan, his first Test ap­pear­ance tended to pass him by.

The for­mer Wales sevens star didn’t touch the ball in the open­ing 40 min­utes, with a only cou­ple of tack­les to show for his first taste of in­ter­na­tional rugby.

He did even­tu­ally get his hands on the ball af­ter 52 min­utes, field­ing a Scot­land kick, but not a pass came his way un­til there was 65 min­utes on the clock.

Hope­fully, he will get an­other chance to show his at­tack­ing qual­i­ties.

SHAUN ED­WARDS WILL BE A HAPPY MAN

THE de­fen­sive dis­play was a ma­jor fac­tor in Wales kick­ing off their au­tumn with a rare vic­tory.

The line­speed from the likes of Tipuric, Ly­di­ate, Ken Owens and Gareth Davies put the Scots and new fly-half Adam Hast­ings un­der con­stant pres­sure and it meant they were of­ten hit be­hind the ad­van­tage line.

With Ly­di­ate chop­ping down blue run­ners as only he does best, Scot­land were un­able to get any mo­men­tum to their at­tack­ing game.

The fi­nal stats showed Wales made 179 tack­les to Scot­land’s 99.

And with the home side con­ced­ing just one try, for­mer rugby league man Ed­wards will be a happy man.

DOD­DIE WEIR IS AN IN­SPI­RA­TION

THE for­mer Scot­land sec­ond row, who is bat­tling mo­tor neu­rone dis-

ease, re­ceived a lovely ova­tion when he took the field be­fore kick-off.

Weir has been an in­spi­ra­tion in the way he has faced ad­ver­sity and the warmth of feel­ing around the Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium spoke vol­umes.

Every time the tele­vi­sion cam­era panned to him in the stands there was a smile on the big man’s face.

He even wore a spe­cial red and blue tar­tan for the oc­ca­sion.

The thoughts of the rugby world are with him.

Dod­die Weir and his fam­ily bring out the Tro­phy car­ry­ing his name be­fore yes­ter­day’s match

Ge­orge North bursts through on his way to scor­ing Wales’ opener

Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies makes a break

It’s try time as Jonathan Davies goes over for Wales’ sec­ond of the day

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