Scotland survived an all time comeback from Wales to secure a 27 – 26 win in Cardiff to get their 2024 Guinness Six Nations off to a winning start.
Leading 20 – 0 at half-time, Scotland utterly dominated the Welsh in the opening half with Warren Gatland’s side looking sluggish.
Scotland would start the second half as they had the first with Duhan van der Merwe sprinting over for his second try of the evening to take the visitors out to a 27 – 0 lead.
⌚️ There’s always time for Duhan Van Der Merwe to score a scorcher of a try for Scotland in his side’s first victory in the Welsh capital for 22 years 🙌#Breitling #DefiningMoment @Breitling pic.twitter.com/Ek1RrB5Y1g
— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 3, 2024
From here, Gatland swung the axe as he made multiple changes, most notably the halfbacks, with Tomos Williams and Ioan Llyod replacing Gareth Davies (41st minutes) and Sam Costelow (35th minute).
Seemingly dead and buried, Wales through caution to the wind as they attacked from everywhere.
This endeavour would be rewarded as they scored 26 unanswered points with four tries coming courtesy of James Botham, Rio Dyer, Aaron Wainwright and Alex Mann.
Now firmly in the ascendancy, Wales looked destined to take home the most unlikely of wins.
Finn Russell and Scotland however had other ideas as the flyhalf settled things down with some long range tacitcal kicks before a dominant Scottish scrum set up a late attack.
The visitors almost secured a fourth try to get the bonus point, with van der Merwe just being held up as time expired.
Speaking post-match, Russell was clearly livid with his team’s inability to keep the pressure on.
“Probably a little bit disappointed to be honest. The win is brilliant but that second half was nowhere near where it needed to be.
“We played really well first half and controlled the game; second half our discipline was poor and two yellow cards allowed Wales back into the game.
“As happy as we are to win, that’s not a performance that we need, especially the second half.
“When we scored that try at the start of the second half we probably got a bit complacent to be honest and thought the game was done.
“Fair play to Wales, they came back and put us under a lot of pressure. The pleasing thing was that at the end of the game we managed to hold them out.
“A lot of positives, but we need to be a lot better.”
No quit in the Welsh
On the other side, speaking of how his team turned things around, winger Josh Adams said his team didn’t want to give in.
“Half time that game could have been a bad score had we continued the way we were going.
“Second half we tried to play with tempo and get at Scotland. We were too complacent in the first half and kicked too much when we could have played.
“We wanted to play with the ball a bit more in the second half after not throwing anything against Scotland in the first half.
“The boys from the bench made a huge impact on the game and got us right back in the game. Hopefully we can carry that on to next week.”
Next up for Wales is a trip to Twickenham to face England, whilst Scotland will host France at Murrayfield.