Scotland 24-25 Wales: Young sensation Louis Rees-Zammit stars with two tries as Wayne Pivac’s side top Six Nations table after completing stunning comeback in topsy-turvy contest at Murryfield
- Scotland came out of the traps quickly and led 17-8 at half-time at Murrayfield
- However, Liam Williams’ converted try narrowed the margin to two points
- The hosts then had Zander Fagerson sent off for a shoulder to Wyn Jones’ head
- Wales capitalised with a try by Jones before Hogg put Scotland back in front
- Louis Rees-Zammit had the last laugh though with a superb score on 70 minutes
- Wales are now top after two Six Nations games following their win over Ireland
The red-card slam is on for Wales, winning against 14 men again after Zander Fagerson was sent off for Scotland and Louis Rees-Zammit made them pay.
Rees-Lightning struck twice as the 20-year-old winger scored a stupendous double, the second a real bolt from the blue to super-charge Welsh Six Nations hopes.
With nine minutes left he went alone down the flank, chipping, chasing and scoring a classic try worthy of winning any game.
Louis Rees-Zammit’s brilliant chip and chase ultimately saw Wales claim victory at Murrayfield
Wayne Pivac’s men now lead the Six Nations after a contest which had several twists and turns
Perhaps with 15 men in the line they might have stopped him, but after Fagerson had flown into Wyn Jones – he himself sensational again at prop – with a shoulder to the face and seen red the extra man was there be exploited.
For Scotland it was one thrown away. They were 14 points up in the first half, all over Wales, who rediscovered their barnacle-like qualities and stole a win, some way, somehow.
It was their second consecutive win against 14, after Peter O’Mahony was sent off for Ireland last week, and suddenly Wayne Pivac is smiling like a Cheshire Cat after his first year brought only frowns.
Rees-Zammit was on hand to set up Liam Williams’ try, and prop Jones took another so Wales even had a bonus point. Scotland scored through Darcy Graham and captain Stuart Hogg crossed twice but they once again failed to back up a big win.
So heavy was the overnight blizzard that one man took to his snowboard outside Murrayfield before kick-off and by the time Matthew Carley blew his first whistle the ‘feels like’ temperature was down to minus seven.
Pivac up in the stands was braving it well though, not even wearing the obligatory sponsored bobble hat, but the touch-judges stood pitch-side wearing gloves, tracksuit bottoms and anything else warm they could find.
Wales head coach Pivac dispensed with the sponsored bobble hat despite the cold conditions
It was the Scots who had frozen England solid at Twickenham last week, but after sobering up from that first win down south in 38 years they were desperate to back it up at long last.
It was 1996, when Hogg was three, the last time Scotland won the opening two games in this Championship – and after Finn Russell and Halfpenny swapped early penalties Gregor Townsend’s men showed their desire to make more history.
Russell pulled the strings superbly, finding Jonny Gray with a pop pass to put the Exeter Chief in a hole. He lumbered through to break the line and from the next ruck Ali Price sensed a chance.
As the Welsh rush in defence he thought quickly to chip over them with a dainty dink. Graham – the nippy winger – timed his run to perfection and managed to catch on the full inside the Welsh 22 before speeding in to score.
Russell converted and was soon pushing Wales around the field with such calm and poise that he looked every inch a Lions fly-half – no longer the mistake-prone maverick.
It was his captain though whose kicking brought the next try. Hogg has been bullish for years about Scotland’s Six Nations chances and now looks to have the team to back up that confidence.
Darcy Graham’s scored the game’s first try after a thrilling move involving scrum-half Ali Price
With teeth bared he chipped and chased into Welsh territory and had the desire to force Halfpenny into a rare error at the back. The Welsh full-back spilled the loose ball and Hogg delighted in sliding onto it and over the line for his try.
Russell’s conversion had Wales staring down the barrel – 14 points down after half an hour and in desperate need of a response before the break.
Their problem was that their lineout wobbled yet again, but so did Scotland’s, each side losing two on their own throw in the first 40 minutes.
Wales were making avoidable mistakes too. Ken Owens screamed ‘next job!’ to make his team re-focus after an Aaron Wainwright spill.
Wales would need all their experience to extricate themselves from the hole they were now in – and in the team was bags of it.
This was their second-most experienced lineup ever, only bettered in terms of cumulative appearances by last week’s side that beat Ireland.
Stuart Hogg seized on a Wales defensive mix-up to put first-half daylight between the sides
And all 865-caps worth of nous was needed for their vital try before half-time. It was like watching Tom Brady orchestrate a multi-phase drive for his Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
From a penalty Wales built a maul, won another which they kicked long, and a third to send them right into Scotland’s coffin corner. Securing that lineout five metres out, and with penalty advantage, they then looked up and saw they had numbers wide.
Superb passes from Nick Tompkins and Liam Williams gave Rees-Zammit the space to jink in for his second try in consecutive weeks and the first Scotland had conceded in this year’s competition.
With Halfpenny off for an HIA – which handed Willis Halaholo a debut – Biggar shot the kick wide, but at least Wales had stolen into half-time only nine points behind.
Liam Williams closed the gap to 17-15 as he followed Rees-Zammit’s first try with one of his own
Zander Fagerson (in the scrum cap) was then dismissed in what proved to be a key moment
Scotland fizzed out after half-time and should have scored a third nine minutes after the resumption but an obstruction on the line denied them.
Pivac had seen enough of his experienced half-backs at the point, hooking off both Biggar and Davies instead of Kieran Hardy and Callum Sheedy and the 25-year-olds were immediately on song.
They combined with Rees-Zammit to send Liam Williams in, and suddenly Wales were only two points back when Sheedy converted. It was ruthless stuff from the Welsh after Scottish errors.
Then the biggest clanger of all as Fagerson slammed into Wyn Jones’ face with his shoulder. It was not as bad as O’Mahony’s the week before but brought the same outcome – a red card and Wales were playing against 14 for the second Test running.
Wyn Jones and Hogg then traded tries before Rees-Zammit’s moment of magic on 70 minutes
And, cruelly for the Scots, it was Jones who then put Wales ahead. His wriggle for the line saw him score just his second Test try. Sheedy missed the kick but Wales led by five.
These Scots are battlers though, epitomised by the never-say-die Hogg. From a scrum under the posts Scotland went through Price and Russell to find their captain who scored a second which Russell converted for a fresh lead.
That was before Rees-Zammit’s sensational solo score as Wales’ Six Nations flashed into life.
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