31 October 2020 20:36
Scotland secured a first win in Wales for 18 years, and a first Six Nations win away from home against any opposition other than Italy in 10 years, and it was absolutely deserved as reward for their superior resilience and discipline. It is the first time Scotland have won three games in a row in the same championship since 1996, when head coach Gregor Townsend was playing stand-off. The result lifts them to second in the Six Nations table for the time being, although they are likely to drop back to third or even fourth depending on how the Italy versus England and the France versus Ireland games pan out later today. This result means Wales have won only once in their five matches during the Championship, meaning it is their worst Six Nations campaign since 2007. The Offside Line Season Appeal 2020 - 2021 Since our launch in 2016, The Offside Line has established itself as the leading independent, dedicated media outlet for Scottish rugby, averaging just over 250,000 page views per calendar month during 2020 – which is not bad going given that the game was in lockdown for five of those months!
We are passionate about rugby at all levels across the whole of Scotland (and beyond) and are committed to continue shining a light on our sport in order to maintain its profile during these uncertain times. We also believe that it is more important than ever that we report on and analyse how the game is being run locally, nationally and globally, at a time when some major decisions on issues such as season-structure and finance will have a profound impact on rugby's future. Thank you for reading The Offside Line. Scotland got off to a promising start with props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland working in unison to win a turnover on the deck almost directly from kick-off, and then Liam Williams giving away a penalty for going off his feet at the next breakdown. The Scots continued to have the upper hand, but the surreal atmosphere inside the empty Parc y Scarlets stadium and the treacherous wind contributed to both sides struggling to hold onto the ball long enough to build any real momentum. Russell got another chance on 10 minutes when a high ball from Hogg caught in the wind and Owen Watkins ended up knocking on as he tried to gather on bounce. This time the Scotland stand-off nailed the points from directly in front of the posts. Scotland continued to press but with not much profit against Wales' suffocating defence, until a long, floated pass from Finn Russell put Blair Kinghorn in space on the left, but the winger had to check his run to gather the ball and Liam Williams snuffed out the threat. Scotland recycled and when the ball swung back to the right, a neat pass inside from Chris Harris to Stuart Hogg unpicked the Welsh defence for the first time, and a try was surely in the bag if the Scotland captain had held onto the ball for a few nano-seconds longer before making his return pass in order to take Dan Biggar out of the equation, but the Welsh stand-off was able to get across to Harris off. Scotland hooker Fraser Brown – who had been struggling with the wind all match, and who had just been given treatment on the pitch – overthrew the line-out to the tail. Elias gathered and a few powerful phases later, Rhys Carre burrowed across the line. Worse still for Scotland, Russell hobbled off with what appeared to be a groin injury as Biggar slotted the conversion from directly in front of the posts. With their tails up, Wales dominated the next seven or eight minutes, but Scotland weathered the storm, and they pulled it back to a one-point game in the last action of the first half when Adam Hastings dissected the posts following yet another ruck penalty conceded by the hosts. The third quarter was a scrappy stalemate, with both teams managing the odd flash of attacking verve, but also coughing up too much ball in contact. Three times Scotland had promising passages of play halted by being able to release the ball from maul situations, but finally they managed to get a rumble on, and got their reward with a line-out drive which was powered over the line by the whole pack – with James Lang, Harris and Graham adding their weight to the effort – before Stuart McInally flopped to the deck in the scoring zone. Leigh Halfpenny struck back for Wales almost immediately when Hogg was penalised for playing on the deck, and it was back to a one-point game with 15 minutes to go, but this time it was the Scots with the narrow advantage. Scotland lost their second stand-off of the match when Hastings – who had injured his shoulder early in the second half but battled on bravely with several threatening attacks – went off on 69 minutes, meaning scrum-half Scott Steele came on for his debut as a winger, with Kinghorn dropping to full-back, and Hogg shifting up to the No10 slot. It brought to mind 2014, except this time Scotland only had a one-point, as opposed to a 12 point, lead to defend, but they kept their composure and shape excellently, with Ali Price, aided by Hogg, pulling the strings expertly to ensure that the final 10 minutes was played deep in Wales' half. Then, with two minutes to go, the hosts attempted a desperate final escape from their own 22, but Johnathan Davies fumbled the ball, and Shane Lewis-Hughes was penalised for going off his feet in the scramble to reclaim possession. Hogg stepped forward to drill home the points which put the gloss on a thoroughly deserved win. Wales: L Halfpenny; L (Liam) Williams, J (Jonathan) Davies, O Watkin (N Tompkins 73), J Adams; D Biggar (R Patchell 42), G Davies (L (Lloyd) Williams 72); R Carre (W Jones 49), R Elias (S Parry 69), T Francis (D Lewis 57-73), W Rowlands (C Hill 57), AW Jones, S Lewis-Hughes, J (James) Davies, T Faletau (A Wainwright 69). Scotland: S Hogg; D Graham (D van der Merwe 66), C Harris, J Lang, B Kinghorn; F Russell (A Hastings 31, S Steele 69), A Price; R Sutherland (O Kebble 53), F Brown (S McInally 53), Z Fagerson (S Berghan 53), S Cummings, J Gray, J Ritchie, H Watson, B Thomson (C du Preez 53). Wales: Try: Carre; Con: Biggar; Pen: Halfpenny. Scotland: Try: McInally; Pen: Russell, Hastings, Hogg. Wales v Scotland: Hosts forced into late team change as key man is ruled out Wales suffered a blow ahead of their Guinness Six Nations clash against Scotland in Llanelli when flanker Justin Tipuric was ruled out. Wales were forced into a late team change. The Welsh Rugby Union said that 77 times-capped Tipuric was sidelined due to tonsillitis, with Scarlets forward James Davies replacing him and Aaron Wainwright taking over from Davies among the substitutes. The Wales skipper drew level with New Zealand World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw a week ago, and he led a team looking to end a run of four successive defeats. Tipuric's absence meant that Wales head coach Wayne Pivac made seven changes from the side beaten by France last time out. The switches included a Test debut for Cardiff Blues flanker Shane Lewis-Hughes and starts for the likes of scrum-half Gareth Davies, prop Tomas Francis and lock Will Rowlands, but wing George North was dropped.