Wales 26-27 Scotland: Second half fightback falls just short for Warren Gatland’s men

Rio Dyer hands off Huw Jones

By Ben Thomas

Wales suffered a 26-27 defeat to Scotland in the opening game of the Six Nations in Cardiff, despite a remarkable second half fightback from the home side. 

Tries from Pierre Schoeman and Duhan Van Der Merwe, alongside perfect kicking from captain Finn Russell saw Scotland pick up their first win in Cardiff since 2002.

Gregor Townsend’s men looked home and dry at half-time leading 20-0 against a disjointed and turgid Wales.

But a memorable response by Wales in the second period almost yielded what would have been a comeback for the ages.

It was a fast-paced start from both sides, with the Scots looking to put early pressure on 21-year-old Cameron Winnett, who was making his senior debut for Wales at full-back.

It was Scotland who got on the scoresheet first, with captain Finn Russell converting a penalty in the fifth minute.

Despite Wales’ best efforts to weather the early Scottish storm, it was the visitors who claimed the first try in the 11th minute. Pierre Schoeman scrambled over the line under the posts, before a successful conversion from Russell.

Further infringement from Wales saw Russell convert his second penalty in the 23rd minute and then quick hands from Scotland created a second try for Duhan Van Der Merwe under the posts.

The Scots could not have looked more untroubled come the interval, and few would have seen the transformation that unfolded.

While Van Der Merwe grabbed his second try in the 43rd minute, that was to be the last time the Scots worked the scoreboard.

What followed was a frantic points chase by Wales.

Wales flanker James Botham started it in the 48th minute by going over for a try from a driving maul.

While Ioan Lloyd missed the conversion, Wales were soon up against 14 men when Scotland hooker George Turner was shown a yellow card.

Wales soon capitalised. They got their second try of the game in the 53rd minute with Rio Dyer diving into the corner before a successful conversion from Lloyd.

Centre Sione Tuipulotu was shown a yellow card on the hour mark to compound the Scots’ problems just before Aaron Wainwright crashed over for the home side’s third try. Lloyd converting to reduce the deficit further.

When debutant Alex Mann went over for a try in the 69th minute, and Lloyd converted, Wales were back to within a solitary point and looking likelier to win.

The pressure was firmly on Scotland as they looked to halt the Wales pressure for the final 10 minutes. And despite a valiant effort it was heartbreak for Wales as Scotland clung on to earn victory in Cardiff.

The result sees Wales sit fourth in the Six Nations table after the first weekend, with the losing bonus point seeing them on two points. Scotland go third behind England and Ireland, who also won this weekend.

Wales now face a trip to Twickenham next weekend where they will look to bounce back from this defeat against old enemy England.

Wales – Forwards: Corey Domachowski, Ryan Elias, Leon Brown, Dafydd Jenkins ©, Adam Beard, James Botham, Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright Backs: Gareth Davies, Sam Costelow, Rio Dyer, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams, Cameron Winnett

Subs: Ioan Lloyd 35’, Teddy Williams 41’, Keiron Assiratti 41’, Elliott Dee 41’, Alex Mann 48’, Tomos Williams 48’, Mason Grady 51’

Tries: James Botham 48’ Rio Dyer 53’ Aaron Wainwright 60’ Alex Mann 69’

Conversion: Ioan Lloyd 53’ 60’ 69’

Penalty kick:

Scotland – Forwards: Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Scott Cummings, Luke Crosbie, Jamie Ritchie, Matt Fagerson Backs: Ben White, Finn Russell ©, Duhan Van Der Merwe, Sione Tuipulotu, Huw Jones, Kyle Steyn, Kyle Jones

Subs: Sam Skinner 31’, Ewan Ashman 50’, Alec Hepburn 61’, Jack Dempsey 61’, Elliot Millar Mills 69’

Tries: Pierre Schoeman 11’ Duhan Van Der Merwe 31’ 43’

Conversions: Finn Russell 11’ 31’ 43’

Penalty kick: Finn Russell 5’ 23’