Wales vs Scotland
It’s almost the weekend! Which means it’s almost time for the next round of Six Nations fixtures! Which means it’s also time for the latest WYWG liveblog! While You Were Gone: stretching the definition of “live” to a ridiculous degree!
Today we have a special treat for you. It’s a double header! That’s right, WYWG has carefully prepared reports on not one but TWO exciting Wales matches for you. Up first, Wales vs Scotland. As always, WYWG’s comments are typographically standard, whereas the interjections of contributor Tom are [bracketed and italicised.]
The BBC have dubbed George North! “Gorgeous George”. You can probably guess whether or not WYWG approves of this nickname. [Also inaccurate, I’d say, he’s no oil painting.]
Commentating today are Jonathan Davies and Andrew Cotter.
Romain Poite is reffing. I’ve not seen him before.
Laidlaw, making his first start for Scotland at fly half, brings “perpetual motion”, according to Cotter. [Scotland’s wingers today are called Jones and Evans. How confusing.]
Wales start by winning back a high kick, and then Halfpenny breaks the Scottish line. Wales knock on, though, and Scotland play out the advantage.
Wales give away a penalty for handling the ball in the ruck with 2:30 on the clock. It’s been a hectic pace so far. [The archetypical Six Nations blood and thunder. It’s not pretty, but it is compelling.]
Bennett completely overthrows his first lineout. Good stuff. [There were points in the world cup when the Welsh lineout functioned. The default horror show seems to be back in effect today though. Mystifying.] Scotland catch the ball, put up a high kick, Halfpenny fumbles it, and Scotland are awarded a penalty. Laidlaw’s attempt at goal drops about a foot short and wide.
Welsh back line is up very fast in defence. Scotland think they are offside, but the ref and touch judges don’t agree. After Scotland lose a good 20-30 yards over a series of phases, Wales look like they might turn the ball over, but then concede a penalty.
Jonathan Davies reads a Scottish back move perfectly and his tackle forces a turnover. Wales immediately lose it again, then win it back, and then Scotland concede a penalty to let the pressure off. Ten minutes in, there’s been no let up in pace. [Bags of commitment and endeavour from both sides. Zero points though.]
Nasty cut behind Bennett’s ear. Ken Owens comes on as a blood replacement. [Maybe the lineout will improve!]
Great tackle from Hamilton on George North!, stopping him in his tracks and turning the ball over. Admittedly George North! did have another Scottish player draped around his ankles at the time, but still.
Stuart Hogg comes on for Max Evans.
Welsh attacking lineout.
Another shambolic lineout from Wales. The jumper barely even leaves the ground. Jiffy considers blaming it on Scottish foul play, but thinks better of it. Bennett comes back on. [Maybe the lineout will improve?]
Again Scotland lose a lot of ground with a series of attacking phases, and then they’re very lucky to keep the ball after a pass in the back line goes nowhere. Then all of a sudden Rennie grabs a wild offload and breaks the Welsh line. Wales concede a penalty, which Laidlaw converts into three points.
Wales 0 - 3 Scotland
Scotland put up a high kick. Cuthbert runs it back. It takes four players to bring him down. Scotland give away a penalty, which Phillips takes quickly. Wales advance well into the Scottish 22, but then knock it on in a tackle.
Shane Williams on the sideline has been impressed by Cuthbert’s work rate: “Fair play to ‘im.”
Cotter on a Scottish clearance: “North is there. Danger!”
Phillips deliberately runs into an offside Scottish player to get a penalty, [whilst sporting a facial expression of profound offence, as if said Scot had just insulted his mum, rather than just been guilty of some shabbily obvious “lazy running”.] Poite is facing the wrong direction, but seems to figure out what happened when he turns around and awards the penalty, which Halfpenny kicks. [He cannot be flustered.]
Wales 3 - 3 Scotland
A player shouts out “Offside!” Jonathan Davies: “There’s a lot of referees on there, isn’t there?” [There’s a lot of offside on there too, to be fair.]
Scotland appear to be targeting George North! with their kicks. Not sure if that’s a deliberate tactic, but it’s not working out all that well for them so far. [In particular, one angled kick that shoots over GN!’s head, is veritably caressed out of the sky by the Anglesey Adonis, taken on the turn, with the ball coming in over his shoulder, in a lovely piece of skill that can only be described as “soft hands for a big man.” Marvellous.]
Scotland attack for many phases. Just as it looks as though they have numbers on the right, a handling error slows them down, although they keep possession.
George North is receiving treatment on the sideline. Rory Lamont takes advantage and charges down the line, but Halfpenny puts in a superb last ditch tackle. [Neither will he be flustered in open play.]
After 20 phases, Scotland are 5m away from the try line. Then they knock it on after a big hit in the ruck by Gethin Jenkins.
George North! is subbed off with an ankle injury. Hook comes on.
Time is up in the first half, but we’ll play out the scrum. Scotland put in a good scrum, but Wales manage to hold onto it.
Half time score: Wales 3 - 3 Scotland
Stats! Scotland have had 62% of the possession, they’ve won 75 rucks to Wales’s 28, and they’ve forced Wales to make 97 tackles, only having made 45 themselves.
Andy Nicol thinks both teams have “contributed”. Shane thinks fitness will be a factor in the second half.
During half time, Shane Williams says some sensible things. I think he’s going to be a good studio analyst. [Agreed. But he must urgently do something about his hair, beard and shiny suit.] I also quite like the way that when asked about the disarray in the Welsh lineouts, he admits “I don’t know much about lineouts” rather than attempting to sound clever. (Martyn Williams, on the sideline, I’m less sure about.)
John Inverdale is having a whale of a time in the stands. Not sure why he’s not in the studio today. [That’s not a complaint though, right? WYWG: Hell, no! ]
Ken Owens is on again for Bennett, this time for good. [Maybe the lineout will get better…] Scotland don’t bother to catch the Welsh kick-off, letting the ball bounce into touch, and Cusiter taps it with his foot first to ensure they won’t get possession. Wales attacking lineout. They win it, and spin the ball across to the left. They recycle the ball, and a couple of phases later Cuthbert bounces through an attempted tackle from Laidlaw and scores the try. Halfpenny makes the kick. [The very concept of “fluster” is anathema to this young man.]
Wales 10 - 3 Scotland
Barclay comes on for Strokosch. I’m pleased there’s now no chance I’m going to have to attempt to spell his name in the heat of the moment. Scotland lose the ball, Jonathan Davies kicks the ball through, and then is clearly brought down without the ball. Poite appears to be watching, but doesn’t award anything. However, the touch judge has seen it, and Nick de Luca goes into the sin bin for ten minutes. Halfpenny slips, but kicks the penalty nonetheless. [For no act of man or God shall fluster him.]
Wales 13 - 3 Scotland
Wales give away a penalty in front of the posts. Poite gives Ryan Jones a talking to.
Mini montage of Andy Robinson’s reactions on the sideline. Amusing.
Wales 13 - 6 Scotland
Mike Blair comes on for Cusiter.
Scotland attack again, but run it into touch. Wales not really making the most of their man advantage at the moment.
Wales attack. They work away at pulling in the defenders and then once they’ve forced enough Scottish players to commit to the ruck, spin it out. Cuthbert draws the tackle, passes to Halfpenny who steps inside his defender and scores the try. [And to Shaun Edwards obvious chagrin, rather than immediately dot the ball down for the try, the Unflustered One scuttles round nearer the posts. Well, so would you, if you had to take the kicks.] And makes the conversion for good measure. [With aplomb, and sans fluster of course.]
Wales 20 - 6 Scotland
Wales attack again from deep. Hook makes a good offload to Jamie Roberts with Faletau in support. Rory Lamont is sin binned for spoiling. Priestland puts the ball into touch to give Wales an attacking lineout with a 2 man advantage.
They win it. Scotland make a couple of try-line tackles, and then concede a scrum. De Luca comes back on. Wales win it, Faletau picks up, offloads to Phillips, who pops it to Halfpenny for his second try. He makes the kick. [The rewards of being Zen are many. 22 points in an international fr’instance.]
Wales 27 - 6 Scotland
Cuthbert puts in a great chase from a very long Welsh clearance. Wales almost turn it over, but Scotland recover and clear. Wales attack again, but Jonathan Davies’s pass is just behind Cuthbert and they lose momentum. Wales give away a penalty. Phillips attempts to take it quickly, but Poite points out that because it was Wales who cheated, Scotland get the ball.
Scotland break-away! Surely they’ll score! Terrible pass to Hogg who falls over attempting to catch it. [AWFUL pass, is it De Luca’s worst moment of the day? Worse than the yellow card brain-fart? Hard to say.] Hogg gathers, and goes over the line, but is called back for knock-on. They replay shows that he didn’t actually knock the ball on: he did drop the ball, but caught it again before it (and he) hit the ground. Wales running from deep get tied up in a tackle and then give away another penalty. Scotland take it quickly. Hogg goes over the line again! But this time he’s held up. How galling for him. Nevertheless, Laidlaw spots an opening in the ruck and scores a try. He makes the kick.
Wales 27 - 13 Scotland
Rory Lamont comes back on, and Scotland are back up to 15 men, with 15 mins on the clock.
Hogg takes a high ball and then breaks the line and makes it halfway down the pitch before Priestland brings him down and into touch.
Scotland seem to have drawn some confidence from the try, but then Wales turn the ball over just inside the Scottish 10 yard line, and Scotland give away a penalty trying to win it back.
Cotter on Halfpenny’s place kicking: “Perfect record so far.” Jonathan Davies replies, “Commentator’s curse.” Halfpenny misses it. [HOLD ON A MINUTE! Can something as common-or-garden as the commentators curse really be the chink in the armour, the glitch in the matrix, the loose foundation stone in the impregnable mental fortress of Leigh Halfpenny? Say it ain’t so…]
Shane is impressed by Hogg, and thinks he’s earned a start next week. Jonathan Davies: “Well if you wear yellow boots you’ve got to be good, haven’t you?” [You’ve got to be “something”, I’d agree.]
Blair puts up a kick which goes high but not long. No-one claims it, and Gray threatens to win it after the bounce. Faletau has quicker hands, though, and tidies it up. Adam Jones and Lydiate come off. Paul James and sodding Andy Powell come on. [AP seems to be really committed to this whole Aramis and Artemis vibe, his golden locks now reaching his shoulders, and slicked back today in the insouciant style of a man ready to thumb his nose at Cardinal Richelieu. He looks like a right plum.]
Wales are miles offside. Poite spots it. Laidlaw breaks the line (aided by a bit of crossing) and chips ahead. He gets an unlucky bounce, and Jonathan Davies gathers and tidies.
Lou Reed comes on for his first cap for Wales! I’m trying to think of a guitar-related joke, but I’m drawing blanks. Thank you thank you I’ll be here all week. [Really?? Makes it a perfect day? Ready for a walk on the wild side? C’mon!]
Scotland attack, and win a penalty in from of the posts. Lamont attempts to take it quickly after a knock on ends the advantage, and then throws a hissy fit when Poite calls him back.
The BBC score banner is telling me a Welsh player’s been sin binned, which somehow I missed. [It was Gethin. Probably glad of a rest.]
Priestland receives the ball on his own try-line, and then makes a great little break. Jonathan Davies offloads to Scott Williams, but he can’t find Halfpenny in support and Wales concede a penalty deep in the Scottish half. A couple of turnovers later, Priestland kicks the ball into touch. As time runs out, Jonathan Davies awards man of the match to Dan Lydiate. [Fair enough, but Ryan Jones for me. And honourable mention to Shingler, who put a real shift in, on début and out of position. Kudos to that young man]
Scotland take the lineout, now just playing for pride. They make it to the halfway line, but then play stops, and Poite whistles for full time.
Final Score: Wales 27 - 13 Scotland
I cannot believe that at no point in this match was Laidlaw hit with a big tackle so I could use my pre-prepared “Laidlaw is laid low” line. Rubbish.
Reviewing Halfpenny’s first try, Shane Williams admires his “balls” in taking the ball right under the posts. That choice of words also displays balls, considering he’s probably still in his probationary period with the Beeb. Jason Mohammed thinks Stuart Hogg added “a lot of zip” to the Scottish back line. It’s true! He was full of vim. He also praises Laidlaw’s “ferreting” for the Scottish try.
He then remarks that “fans of the oval ball” will be looking forward to Match of the Day 2, later on in the day. When we come back from the video package advertising said show, he corrects himself. He meant fans of the “round ball”, of course! Which is not really a phrase I’ve ever heard used to describe football. [Fairly non-specific innit, given the number of round ball sports. I can only think of three oval ball sports. Are there any others?]
He then looks past the England match in his final comment. And the Italy match. And the French match. Yes, two slightly shaky wins into the tournament, he’s already speculating that Wales might win the Grand Slam. Commentator’s curse, Jason! [Aye, I normally quite like J-Mo, but this is a very stupid thing to say. A good, solid win, and a 14 point margin in any 6N game is not to be sniffed at, but nerves are jangling for Twickenham already.]
Conclusion: Again, Wales didn’t play superlatively well, but they managed to get the win.
[Conclusion: Good to see Roberts, Jenkins and Priestland all playing, though all three were a little off their superlative best I thought. Here’s hoping the two week gap is long enough a). for Sam to get fit, and b). for us to work on our Lou Reed puns. To work!]