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Wales march on as Scots lament familiar failings

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Bryn Palmer | 20:42 UK time, Sunday, 12 February 2012

Two down, three to go.  At least that’s how the Welsh optimists – and there were plenty of them streaming into the streets of Cardiff on Sunday night – will see it.

If that appears a bit presumptuous with a trip to Twickenham looming next, there is no sign of this crop of Wales players getting ahead of themselves. Their public can do that for them.

But there is no doubt confidence is oozing through the Red Dragonhood after following up their opening Six Nations win in Dublin with another exhilarating victory over Scotland in Cardiff.

Leigh Halfpenny has now score 105 points in 29 Tests for Wales

It is the fourth time Wales have won their opening two Six Nations fixtures, and their conversion rate is pretty good. Two Grand Slams in 2005 and 2008, only missing out in 2009.

If their failure in Paris three years ago was a reminder of potential pitfalls ahead, Wales will probably travel to south west London a week on Saturday as marginal favourites, a status they have not enjoyed since their 1970s heyday.

England may also have two wins from two, but when their coach Stuart Lancaster describes the Welsh fixture as “a significant challenge”, and Lewis Moody suggests it may be “a step too far” for his former team-mates at this stage of their development, they are realistic assessments.

Wales are further down the road, a point acknowledged by defence coach Shaun Edwards when asked to compare the current side with the one which launched Warren Gatland’s reign with a momentous victory at Twickenham four years ago.

“I think this team are probably a bit more advanced than the team in 2008,” Edwards noted. “That was our first game together, and there was not a huge understanding of what we wanted then, but we managed to pull off a famous win. Welsh wins at Twickenham have been pretty minimal down the years [two in the last 24 years] but if we can keep our discipline, first and foremost, like we did for the majority of the game today, then we will have a good chance.”

Injuries to George North, who hobbled off after "rolling his ankle" before half-time, Huw Bennett (calf) and Ryan Jones, who was icing a sore knee after leading Wales for a record-equalling 28th time in the absence of Sam Warburton, will again test the squad’s depth if any of them don’t recover in time.

But whereas losing three or four frontline players would have proved an insurmountable hurdle in recent years, Gatland has been able to manage his depleted resources effectively. He may even have two Lions in Matthew Rees and Alun Wyn Jones back in the selection mix for Twickenham.

The withdrawal of Warburton before kick-off could have proved damaging, but Aaron Shingler – who trained at open-side all week - earned the coach’s praise for an encouraging debut. Alongside him in the back row, Toby Faletau excelled again, while Dan Lydiate’s seamless return from injury earned the grafting flanker the man-of-the-match award.

Leigh Halfpenny must have run him close after another fine all-round performance, running ball purposefully out of defence, kicking five from six at goal and collecting two tries for his efforts.

Wing Alex Cuthbert justified Gatland’s decision to stick with him after his debut in Dublin was curtailed at half-time, his giant frame generating momentum on the counter-attack, while Greig Laidlaw simply couldn’t handle the youngster’s power as he barrelled through the Scotland fly-half’s tackle for his first Wales try.

Cuthbert may be “raw and very green” as Gatland described him afterwards, but along with North, who sent a wave of anticipation around the Millennium Stadium whenever the ball arrived in his hands, he offers a physical potency that opponents clearly find hard to handle.

Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies enjoyed another profitable afternoon in attack and defence and, with Ryan Jones filling the second-row vacancy left by Bradley Davies and Gethin Jenkins restored to the front row, the Wales engine room – a couple of line-out wobbles aside – purred smoothly enough, laying the platform for the backs to strut their stuff.

While Scotland contributed to their own downfall, Chris Cusiter’s error from the second-half kick-off setting in motion a horror 16 minutes for the visitors, the ruthlessness and composure with which Wales seized the moment and finished their three tries was compelling to behold.

That was in stark contrast to a Scotland side who again did many things right, as they had against England, but repeatedly failed to summon the required skill to reward their endeavours.

A prime attacking position from a scrum 30m out in centre-field came to nothing, before Allan Jacobsen’s knock-on a metre from the line completed another desperate failure to finish off a 21-phase period of pressure as half-time loomed.

Your heart bled for the Scottish supporters at that point, as the familiar sight of Andy Robinson’s ‘bulldog chewing a wasp’ routine in his box flashed up on the big screen.

“We are a decent side and we went toe-to-toe with Wales, who are obviously a good team,” the coach declared afterwards. In their physicality, attitude and spirit – particularly from 27-6 down with 24 minutes still remaining – you couldn’t argue with him.

But decent sides don’t continually bungle gilt-edged opportunities to score when the game is in the balance, which is fast becoming a Scottish trademark.

Both Robinson and captain Ross Ford insisted that belief within the squad remains high, but a fourth straight Test defeat, and only one victory in their last 13 Six Nations away games, does not suggest a side at ease with the pressure of sustaining high standards for long enough in hostile arenas.

Not that home offers great comfort, with tournament favourites France visiting Murrayfield next.

Wales on the other hand have no such worries, or lack of conviction.  A Triple Crown date at Twickenham awaits, and it is one they will relish. Negotiate that, and they know another Grand Slam decider in Cardiff will be in the offing.  Exciting times for Welsh rugby?  You bet.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Cracking performance by Wales, even if Scotland did shoot themselves in the foot with the two yellow cards (both very, very silly). Took our chances well and some fantastic efforts across the board. I thought Mike Phillips looked a little more ponderous in parts today than he did in Dublin, and the line-out continues to be a problem area. However, taken as a whole, I think we can look forward to a trip to Twickenham and I fully expect us to get a win there too.

    Got to add that I thought Romain Poite was truly awful today (for both teams). His interpretation of the break-down wasn't consistent from one ruck to the next, and his ruling on Hogg's "knock-on" was woeful. He looked to be a long way away from it so how he could be sure it was knocked-on is beyond me. Surely a chat with the TMO would have cleared that up (or can he not refer knock-ons before a try "upstairs"...I lose track of the IRB's incessant rule changes).

  • Comment number 2.

    If only Scotland had caught the ball from the restart at the start of the 2nd half. I think it would have been a totally different game. One day Scotland will come good. I just hope Andy Robinson sticks around and doesn't walk away.....

  • Comment number 3.

    Bryn nicely summed up... I think the Scot's pack are as good as any in this 6N and France might have a surprise waiting for them in a fortnight in Murrayfield. Wales are doing amazing with such injury and disruption to their forward line. I felt at half time that the Scot's deserved a lead but couldn't handle the Welsh pressure once applied so clynically in the 2nd half which forced the Scots to concede yellow cards. I think the Scots boys are getting better but for Wales if they can get something close to their best 15 will have a fair crack at Les Bleu. As for England you never know if they stick up their jumper they could throttle the Welsh creativity but if they try to play open progressive rugby I think they will lose by a few scores...

  • Comment number 4.

    I hope England manage to lift their level so the Welsh boys get a proper practice game before we face the World-cup runners up !

  • Comment number 5.

    soupbear, i agree about Poite. Wales had hands in rucks and bodies interfering with the ball in the 1st half and Scotland did it in the 2nd half.

    The Welsh back-line is exceptional both in attack and defence (even if they're offside about 50% of the time!) and they will drive Wales on to a Grand Slam imo.

    The Scottish forwards were immense today (except the 2 props who were pushed around at virtually every scrum) and if we had a decent 12/13 combo then we'd have pushed Wales close today. Positive steps once again but we can't keep pushing that line.

    If Denton/Rennie and Gray tear into France in the same fashion then we have a good chance against them.

  • Comment number 6.

    @andy. Ifs and buts are not good.

    Good read bryn, one small point.

    Where did you get France favourites from?

    Is that your personal opinion?

    All bookies now have Wales as favourites.

  • Comment number 7.

    The most encouraging thing about Wales so far in this Six Nations is the fact that despite two wins you can still see room for improvement. Warren Gatland's favourite word seems to be 'accuracy' and there were a few areas and moments where Wales could've been better in that regard. England have been poor so far, but Wales will still need a performance to win at Twickers.
    Scotland are nearly there. They were unlucky today with the Hogg try, which was nailed on had M, Poite referred it, so the scoreline slightly flattered Wales. Following Wales for many years I understand the frustration with 'nearly' performances, but surely a big result and a big season is coming.

  • Comment number 8.

    Wales played well today, however I think with out the two yellow cards it would have been a very different story. Agree with the comment that the ref was awful, but if I'm being honest none of the refs have had a great game so far this year. My understanding is that he could of gone to the TMO for a knock on, but he couldn't of done if he thought it was a forward pass.
    Wales could well get a grand slam,(they were and are still my favourites for the tournament) but there is a long way to go, and I would write England off.

    However I would say that I'm an Englishman.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm an Ireland supporter and my wife is Scottish. So feel for the Scots. It took 80 mins for the ref to sin bin a Welsh player for the repeated infringement of killing/slowing down the ball. How many times did we hear 'no hands' but already it was too late. The only way to stop repeated infringement is the 'bin', a penalty outside the 'red zone' does not hurt the offenders. The Welsh have developed killing or sealing of the ball to an art form. Two or three Welsh players fall off their feet at every ruck so slow down the ball and the ineffectual ref shouts 'no hands'

    The Scots on the other hand with a total lack of guile perform two 'deliberate fouls' in open play seen by all and shoot themselves in the foot.

    Can I add, despite JD's assertion, there is no such thing as a 'professional foul' it is deliberate infringement of the laws to gain an advantage or stop your opponents gaining an advantage and commentators should call it as such. Referees should be particularly vigilant and give it the harshest punishment.

  • Comment number 10.

    @Anthony... the French are always capable and even though this is potentially a great Welsh side I would tip them as slight favorites until we have the chance in Cardiff of course!

  • Comment number 11.

    I think I shall watch the England Wales game from behind the sofa - I fear a hammering

  • Comment number 12.

    Was pretty good today but I think it's fair to say that it was the two yellow cards that made the difference. When it was 15 v 15 the contest was close. Then when Scotland first went down to 14 it was Wales' game, when it went down to 13 it stopped being a competition at all. Let's be honest with any two teams in the world you should be scoring with 2 players more.

    Still Wales have gone 2 from 2 and look good. Shame for Scotland really as if Scotland had kept all their players on the pitch they might have been on for a famous win and definitely it would have been much, much closer.

  • Comment number 13.

    If Scotland had taken their chances, it would have been a very different story. Wales seemed to lack the flair they've shown in recent matches, I think as a result of several injuries. Should be a very interesting match at Twickenham, as England are gaining momentum and belief, and have history on their side. However, still think Wales will win, but it will be tight.

  • Comment number 14.

    To be honest, I thought we weren't that great today. We tried to throw the ball about too much in the first half before earning the right to do so. In addition, Scotland targeted the breakdown well and we really missed Warbs. The result was that we coughed up far too much ball. Having said that when we got some decent possession we were really clinical.

    Our game management needs to be much better in two weeks time and we have to protect our own ball more effectively at the breakdown. If we turn up thinking we just need to get the ball out to Doc and North (if fit) to win, I suspect we will be in for a very nasty surprise.

  • Comment number 15.

    I dont get this .. if only the 2 yellow cards hadn't been conceded rubbish. They are a direct result of foul play exerted by pressure from the opposition. One was possibly a try scoring opportunity denied for Wales so the score and the momentum was likely to roll in this case Wales' favour...

  • Comment number 16.

    Typical welsh arrogance this ...

    ... Only joking fellas. I thought Wales looked a quality side once again and congratulations on the win. I think you'll find more good will amongst the English towards the Welsh than you'd believe - myself included having really enjoyed watching Wales for the last half dozen seasons.

    I hope that Wales can convert this in to beating the SH teams regularly and going far at the next world cup - I know they won hearts and did well in NZ, but there is still the question mark that they can beat the top boys when it matters.

    What's going on in the lineout btw?

    Good effort Scotland. Thought they looked as exciting in the loose as I can remember, Rennie in particular.

    I'd like to know what the Scots think of Robinson...(?) He was referred to in today's Observer as a brilliant coach - which I would defer to - but to the neutral there's a touch of the Steve Mclaren about him - only surly.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    jwovens - the jury on Robinson is out for me. He has the best young Scottish talent to choose from in as long as most of us can remember (as seen by the propulsion of Edinburgh to qf of Heineken cup and Glasgow in top 4 of Rabo) yet he seems to want to stick with by and large the squad that embarassed us in last 6N and the RWC.

    Friendly wins vs Southern Hemisphere sides in Autumn internationals are meaningless if we continue to perform so badly in competitive matches.

    He really needs to make the likes of Hogg,Scott,Weir,Denton,Harley and Gray the backbone of the Scottish side for the next 2 RWCs.

  • Comment number 19.

    Dragonbitesback Scotland can't complain about either yellow, though I've seen similar offences not carded in other games. The truth still was that at the end of the first half the score was 3-3 and Scotland probably looked the better team. It was when the first yellow card came out that the game shifted in Wales favour.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's so great to see Scotland playing good exciting expansive rugby! I really think they did themselves proud today. As for the England/Wales match, I'm not sure the boot of Owen Farrell will be enough for England to dig themselves out of trouble, I think Wales might run away with it.

  • Comment number 21.

    I don't accept that most Welsh fans are optimistic about a Grand Slam, very pleased with two wins but under no illusion that there is still a long way to go and difficult games ahead.

    The only triumphalism I see is that being conjured up by the media, this Welsh team have their feet firmly on the ground and that goes for the fans too.

  • Comment number 22.

    "17.
    At 22:16 12th Feb 2012, Bear wrote:

    Sorry to interrupt but can anyone explain what has happened to the BBC website? Ben Gallop isn't responding on his own blog..."

    -----

    Quite agree mate. The new bbc sport website, with respect to the journalism, is vastly vastly worse than it used to be - almost unreadable and non-intuitive. Anyway, probably off-topic! :(

  • Comment number 23.

    @Graeme #8

    Andy Nicol on Scrum V just said the Hogg try couldn't have been referred as it wasn't the act of scoring that was in question. Guess that clears that up. Still, poor decision and I'm sure he could have asked his touch judge (who looked to be right up with play).

  • Comment number 24.

    In terms of Robinson sitting on the outside I find it a difficult thing to call. On the one hand they went out today and gave Wales a game. They played the right tactics and had the right selection. Through the actions of the players on the pitch they received yellow cards and it was that ultimately that cost them the game. There is nothing the coach can do about that. On the other hand he's lost a lot of games now, went out in the group stages of the world cup for the first time ever and have looked pretty one dimensional in a lot of games.

    I'd say ultimately I can't see anyone that would come in that would come in and do a better job.

  • Comment number 25.

    *17

    I totally agree re the BBC website-truly awful-as is their rugby coverage! Again today live play was missed in lieu of watching non-sensical replays! I too have complained, but THEY DON'T LISTEN!
    I thought it was OUR BBC! I reckon that Sky has taken so much of the major sports from the BBC that they have forgotten how to produce quality coverage. I don't want to se AR in his little glass box or close- ups of the crowd ad nauseum-just get the match on screen for goodness' sake!

    The website was great as it was, but oh no, some twerp has to be seen to be improving things-well, you haven't. If I want to read the Sun, I'll buy one!

    As for the match-well yet another case of "Here's my foot and I'm going to shoot it" by Scotland. Oh we'll "take the positives" I know, but I think our current table position is just right.

  • Comment number 26.

    "18.
    At 22:16 12th Feb 2012, hewittextratime83 wrote:

    ... the jury on Robinson is out for me. He has the best young Scottish talent to choose... yet he seems to want to stick with by and large the squad that embarassed us in last 6N and the RWC..."

    Difficult to legislate for dropped chances I suppose (or not in today's case!), but there is undoubtedly talent there - as you say.

    I thought the ball carrying by the Scottish loose forwards, by and large was very good but (and I think the tv pundits pointed this out today) they were much slower to the breakdown when they were attacking i.e. good breaks becoming isolated...

    ...not to mention some clever slowing of the ball by Welsh hands in the ruck - beginning to learn something from their Kiwi coach ;)

  • Comment number 27.

    @thelastkingofengland I'm afraid to say you are wrong here. Wales 1st try was 15 v 15. Wales had their tales up and the pressure forced errors by Scotland.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wow Bryn,
    Interesting take on the game, both this blog and the match review. The way I saw it two of the tries came whilst Scotland were a man down, yet the way you write it was all down to the Welsh skill alone.

    Honestly, you could have talked how the Scottish played far better than the Welsh, but you opt to get a bit carried away with the "Blitz" that you witnessed, or the potential 4th try, Wales could have scored. Lets be fair, Wales were lucky last week, to get a penalty for a decent tackle. This week, there were improvements but if anything it was Scotland that have advanced further. Perhaps you should go easy on the sensationalism when you pick up your pen.

  • Comment number 29.

    I tend to agree with the folks posting that the match reporting is over-hyped and somewhat biased towards wales. In the first-half Wales learned what England learned last week, that Scotland are no pushovers, are probably one or two players short of being a good side (and need a 10 that can tackle) and that a new coach wouldn't go amiss (ok, that last point is just my opinion, sorry Andy!).

    That said wales, of all the 6N's teams, look the most settled and comfortable in their style of play and whilst I don't subscribe to the "wales blitz" headline (3-3 at halftime and the majority of Wales points scored whilst Scotland were one man down for 20 minutes, not so much a blitz more snatching toys from a toddler!?!) you have to say wales were efficient in the way they went about about this and hardly broke in to a sweat suggesting there's much more in reserve for when they need it.

    The next 3 games all present potential banana-skins but they should beat England and Italy and at home to France going for the Slam I'd put money on them ... so talk of a Welsh Slam is not over-hyping the situation.

  • Comment number 30.

    @27 Anthony it wasn't so much the first try as so much the flow of the game that was tight until the first yellow card. In deed Scotland were on top for big parts of the first half. Silly errors cost them, the knock on just before half time with the Welsh try line beckoning being a prime example. I don't think Robinson can be held responsible for those kind of things but ultimately how long can that go on for before his time is up?

  • Comment number 31.

    Pulsating game today and once again the Wales game provided far better fare for the viewers than that served up by England. But does that mean, as some folk would have us believe, that they are on course for a Grand Slam? To listen to some they need only turn up at twickenham in a fortnight to collect the spoils, which neatly overlooks the fact that they will also need to beat the French which is not always a straightforward task in itself!

    For the record, the Scots were the better side in the first 40 minutes and had Poite noticed some fairly blatant Welsh 'spoiling' it might have been Wales who were down to 13 men and a different contest as a consequence. Deserved winners they were on balance but I saw little evidence that the Welsh are in any way a foregone conclusion to beat England, France and Italy based on their performance yesterday. Their line out is far from solid and I also think Shane Williams was their most dangerous weapon. Should they defeat England in their own back yard as comofortably as some are suggesting they will then fair enough, favourites they will be especially with France facing four solid weeks of rugby, but England have a few players returning from injury and have secured two away wins themselves. While they've been anything but impressive to date there were signs that things are starting to fall into place and there may be some long faces amongst the Welsh faithful if confidence gives way to arrogance next time out.

  • Comment number 32.

    It is indeed time for a Slam. But it's gonna be France.

  • Comment number 33.

    Second game in a row where the stats significantly favoured Scotland and yet they come out on the losing side. Wales routinely killed Scottish ball and got away with it. The attack just before half time was brought to a halt by a hand from Gethin Jenkins off his feet at the ruck. One of many infringements missed by the referee.

    How Gatland could say that Scotland were the ones disrupting at the breakdown is beyond me - don't you have to have the ball to have it disrupted Warren?

    The first yellow card offence was an almost carbon copy of the tackle on Strettle in the Italy vs England game except that the Italian tripped him (a more cynical infringement in my opinion) - no yellow card in that case. The referees seem to be getting more and more inconsistent. Scrums are a lottery and we have all this spear tackle confusion. The players don't have a clue where they stand.

    Wales do have a very good side and with one man down you are going to struggle - two and you have no chance. You might say that was Scotland's fault. Maybe. Or perhaps they just need to manage their infringing more effectively like other sides do ;-)

    I wish all the best to the Welsh though. They are my second side and I would love them to go all the way now.

  • Comment number 34.

    PS, 17, completely agree. I wish Alexa had subdomain traffic data so I could see those numbers plummeting.

  • Comment number 35.

    I agree that Wales look as though they can beat allcomers in this 6N tournament. As for the Scots, I thought they were unlucky, but poor against England. Outclassed by Wales. Their forwards strived manfully, and with some success. Their backs ran at that great red wall time after time, but were repulsed repeatedly. When it was time for the Welsh backs to run, there is only so many times that smaller men can hold them. They gave in the end and the result was a foregone conclusion. However I thought it was a much better performance from Scotland. It also reinforced the view that the Welsh are the team to beat. Who can do this now? France are certainly in with a shot, England must be an outside bet, Italy a real long shot. A visit to the bookies could be in order.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think that Wales will prob win this years tournament (not certain about the slam though). What would frustrate me as a Wales fan would it coming off the back of a World Cup campaign that they genuinely could of won.

  • Comment number 37.

    Re: No 6) Anthony - France were the favourites for the title at the outset (three of the BBC's four main pundits tipped them - http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/16824077) and obviously they won their opening game, and still have Ireland and England to play at home. My own feeling was that if Wales won in Dublin - which I admit I had reservations about - they would go on to win the title. Obviously the bookies' odds may have changed after the opening two weekends, and France may actually be disadvantaged by having to play 4 weekends in a row now, depending on when their game is rearranged for.

    Re: no 7) Superha83 - The trouble is Scotland have had the odd big result in recent years (winning in Dublin, beating Australia & SA at Murrayfield etc) but does it lead onto more consistent success? Agree there are similarities with Wales, I'm not just not sure Scotland have enough quality backs to ensure the excellent work of their pack doesn't go to waste.

    Re: 12) and 19) TheLastKingofEngland - I'd point out that Wales had already gone 10-3 up when Scotland lost De Luca to the bin, and might have got more than Halfpenny's penalty to make it 13-3 if he hadn't impeded Davies. So although Wales scored their second try when Scotland were down to 14, and their third against 13 men, they had already gained the ascendancy on the scoreboard. Plus, as 15) DragonBitesback notes, both yellow cards were as the result of mounting Welsh pressure.

    Re: 28) SandyMcC Yes, Sandy, the Scots probably edged the Welsh in the first half, or at least the last 10 mins of it, but they couldn't make that count on the scoreboard could they? So I'm not sure if that counts as an advance. You could argue they played strongly against a better team than the previous week, but the 'blitz' came about because of Scottish errors, Welsh pressure and finishing power, and Scottish indiscipline. If you're ruthless when the chances come, and strong defensively, I'd say that's the mark of a good side. Wouldn't be surprised if Scots upset France though.

  • Comment number 38.

    Thanks Bryn as I'd said the yellows seemed to switch the momentum more than the 1st try to me and certainly took away any chance Scotland had of making a come back. I'd also point out that Wales won by 14 points and scored 17 in the time Scotland were down players. I'd say to try and gloss over the effect they had on the game would be to do Scotland a disservice.

    I would also add that as I said Scotland can't have any complaints about either of the yellows and so Wales deserved the win but in this competition if any team goes down to 13 players their opponent will win. Finally I'd say a 7 point deficit is far easier to come back from than a 21 point deficit.

  • Comment number 39.

    Rugby great, new BBC sport website not so.
    Not intuitive in any way and very difficult to find items.
    Needs to be fixed, urgently.

  • Comment number 40.

    Can't agree more with the posts about the BBC web site it's absolutely terrible. Don't understand the urge to fix something that isn't broken.

    This is a better Scottish team than I have seen in a number of years they just need patience & should develop into a fine side.

  • Comment number 41.

    Think Scotland deserve a lot of credit for the way they played, I also think that some of the criticism regarding their 'wasted' chanced are harsh, Wales are fierce in defence in a manner that is seldom seen and the pressure that it applies to the attacking team leads to errors, a more composed attacking side may well cope better but there arent many who would.

    I thought the ref was terrible at the breakdown and generally inconsistent during the match, he clearly gave one penalty at a breakdown without being able to see ball or hands as he was satnding behind a fringe defender, the scrum half was screaming hands hands and he blew his whistle, top class ref are not player led, there was too much 'chatter' around the ref and he should have stopped it early on. Also, i think he could have gone to TMO for hoggs try, and asked 'is there any reason not to award' these are often taken back for knock ons and foot in touch etc, he made a snap decision although i dont honestly think it would have changed the outcome.

    All in all though a great game played at a fantastic pace, lots of ball in hand and not too much aimless kicking, it was also ferocious, will be some aching bodies today!

    Come on Wales !! Triple Crown as a minimum

  • Comment number 42.

    That Scot's pack is scary. If they could find top class 10, 12 and 13, they would be a very good team. Or should I say BIGGER and better 10, 12 and 13, because ultimately it was the lack of physicality that was their undoing.

    The breakdown is becoming a farce that must be a referees' nightmare. Bodies are falling over and lying on the wrong side just about all the time, and it's no use the referee screaming 'roll away' if a player has half a tonne of other bodies on top of him - HE CAN'T! Also, how on earth is the ref supposed to spot every sly sleight of hand within that heaving press of bodies! I think they are more deserving of our understanding than our criticism. Bring back rucking, as that would definitely discourage bodies going to ground and the placing of hands where they shouldn't be.

  • Comment number 43.

    "The first yellow card offence was an almost carbon copy of the tackle on Strettle in the Italy vs England game except that the Italian tripped him (a more cynical infringement in my opinion) - no yellow card in that case. The referees seem to be getting more and more inconsistent. Scrums are a lottery and we have all this spear tackle confusion. The players don't have a clue where they stand"

    I must differ with every part of this comment. The contact on Strettle was nowhere near as cynical as the dragging back of Davies was yesterday, a penalty was just about the right call, though with hindsight it would have been better if he hadn't seen it!

    As for players not knowing where they stand, nonsense, absolute nonsense. The laws are clear, the directives there for all to see (from 2009 in terms of dangerous tackles). Players are coached to go as far beyond the laws and the spirit of the laws as they can at Elite Level.
    Referees are refereeing a mess of scrum caused by an overcoaching of the hit, which is not part of the engagement anyway, gym monkeys unable to support their own body weight in a poised position and shirts not condusive to binding on.
    The law on tackle is very clear, if you had read it you would understand how correct the Ferris decision was last week, and Gatland has made his standing clear on the tackle issue. Shame his fellow coaches at club level dont follow suit.
    As for consistancy, referees will call what they see, and if players don't want the referee to judge on something, then maybe they should stop cheating, dropping balls with the line begging and tackling illegally. Just a thought!

  • Comment number 44.

    Once again frustrated with the Scottish errors.

    Both challenges were definitely bookings, Lamont was trying to prevent a try, and was maybe hoping the ref wouldnt see it. However De luca's tackle was idiotic. Cant believe the guy did that.

    Agree with those who say the standard of refereeing has been poor. As a Warriors fan it would have been nice to have seen Hogg score on his debut, a true prospect for the future imo.

    Any way well done to Wales. Close match but won after a clinical 14 minute period in which Wales tore us apart.

  • Comment number 45.

    Another real treat of a game. Standards probably a touch off of what was seen in Dublin, but still an absorbing occasion. Scotland were there, and we all knew they would be, their pack went well, and around the fringes they cause a lot of damage. But those yellow cards, bonkers was one way to describe them, plenty of others have sighted their contribution as pretty damaging as well: http://eye-on-wales.com/2012/02/13/six-nations-donkey-awards-round-2/ It's unlikely that the cards changed the game, as Priestland showed towards the end of the match, Wales can break with only 14 on the field, and break well, but the 13 man situation for Scotland certainly sealed with deal in terms of the result. Hope to Scotland start turning some results soon though, a lot of potential is there, and the hope is that it is not wasted.

  • Comment number 46.

    The Scots should be proud. They played well and showed that they may have one or two forwards up for Lions selection next year. Wales did not play that well, but once they sniffed blood - their first try, the pressure and floodgates opened. They eased off in the last quarter and let in a soft try - I dont suppose the Welsh number 8 will want to see that again.
    Too soon for GS talk yet.

  • Comment number 47.

    "the Wales game provided far better fare for the viewers than that served up by England" you are of course right but don't you think that conditions were a bit different? Feel sorry for Scotland and Andy Robinson. The game turned on the restart not being taken, what can the coach do about silly errors like that? Once they had their noses in front, it was always going to be tough and the yellows sealed their fate. The 1st half was fairly even, maybe Scotland shaded it. Goes to show that there really isn't a massive difference between sides that will potentially be 1st and 5th in the 6N.

  • Comment number 48.

    #4 "I hope England manage to lift their level so the Welsh boys get a proper practice game before we face the World-cup runners up !"

    Typical Welsh arrogence! Good to see its alive and kicking!

  • Comment number 49.

    Thought Scotland played well in the first half, were very aggressive and put their bodies on the line. Wales just changed gear in the second half and Scotland couldn't keep up.

    I would like to point out one issue that nobody else seems to have mentioned, the 'tackle' that wasn't by Jim Hamilton on George North. He went in with his shoulder purely to cause damage and did not use his arms at all. Totally missed by the ref and linesmen alike.

    Poor refereeing, just wonder if anybody else saw it and what they thought of the incident??

  • Comment number 50.

    All these English fans who are saying about "Welsh Hype" and pointing out that "Scotland were the better side for 40 minutes" - well that's true - but they seem to forget that Scotland was the better side for 80 minutes v England.

    And for the true definition of hype - "an Englishman seeing anything positive about their last 2 games" - Lancaster is a disaster who is ruining a bunch of raw , young players.

    Christmas in Wales this year is moved to Feb 25th.

  • Comment number 51.

    Scotland played well - except for capitalizing on their opportunities. Wales took their chances and made the most of the numerical advantage created by their pressure.

    Very little between the sides - but I think that's true of the majority of Tier 1 international sides. It's about taking your chances, playing to the vagaries of the ref's interpretation and getting some luck on the day.

    Both yellows were nailed on - both were reactions to increasing Welsh pressure.

    Scottish inability to finish under pressure is their main problem.
    Welsh lineout is their main problem.

    Anything can happen in 2 weeks' time - Wales can lose to England; Scotland can beat France.

    As somebody else has already suggested, I don't believe the Welsh players or fans are getting carried away; the media however needs to sensensationalise to sell copy as always.

  • Comment number 52.

    Wales have a great chance and are developing into a very good team and without doubt on recent form are the best of the home nations.

    As for a fortnights time I can't help but think back a year and how cofident England were heading to Cardiff and think what an amazing turnaround Gatland has provided. Warburton, North, Davies, Lydiate, Preistland and all have repaid his faith in them brilliantly and it goes some to say despite the media love in for Hook he stuck to his guns and picked the best balanced team rather than purely that filled with those deemed the most talented players.

    That said I think it will be closer than many are writing as Englands wins away in tough conditions against Scotland and Italy (remember they beat France in Rome a year ago) are better than they were given credit for particularly given they only had a weeks time together before them.

    Add Tuilagi, Lawes and Wood (harsh but I expect Dowson dropped from the squad, Botha and Barritt to the bench) and into the mix along with likely switches with Dickson and Morgan and it will look like the basis of a decent team albeit one rather earlier in the development stage than Wales.

    Wales big favourites yes but i doubt they'll be looking at the game as quite the walkover many of there fans expect as if nothing else engalns wales is usually a bit of a war with both teams in pieces by the end! Can't wait for it!!!

    P.S. I delibrately didn't incl;ude Flood on recent form like Youngs he is not at his best (even prior to injury) and despite arguably being the better player should not displace Hodgson or jump Farrell in the 10 jersey queue.

  • Comment number 53.

    Last week I commented that the Lions squad would be lucky to contain any English or Scottish players, but some of the Scottish forwards were outstanding on Sunday. Some 'headless' decisions by a couple of their backline put them under additional pressure in what was a closer game than the scoreline suggests.

    A good, though not great performance, by Wales. What is positive for Wales is that an average performance still resulted in a win and that they have managed to plug the gaps left by a rising number of non-available players. I am concerned that they cannot continue at the rate they are losing high calibre players who would probably be first-choice. For example, I would be devastated if Adam Jones were not available as he is currently, virtually irreplaceable in the starting line-up.

    Consequently, whilst I am very happy with the way Wales are trying to play (surely the two most entertaining games thus far), I do think that it is a big ask to start talking of Triple Crowns, let alone Grand Slams.

    Llareggub

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh and Scotland are a better team than teh first 2 weeks results suggest with a little more patiance and variety to the area of attack (S Lamont is great but he can be used as a dummy rather than carrier occasionally!). I hope they switch evans into teh centres alongside Lamont get rid of De Luca (I can't recall him ever impressing me in an international and he has had a few) and bring Hogg on the wing and its a reasonable backline whichgiven the power they have for carrying up fronty should mean they start to really hurt the opposition?

  • Comment number 55.

    Wales have the grand slam sown up. They will take England apart with ease and then they will prove too strong for France. Well done Wales...another grand slam win!

  • Comment number 56.

    Wales are miles away from being a great side, I am not even sure they qualify as slightly better than good.

    They would get thumped by NZ and looking at the first two games I think SA would do far better than in RWC, France will expect to win and even England will fancy their chances (OK the last is a bit of a stretch).

    For all the size and pace of the backs the Welsh forwards are a problem.

    Line out is awful - better than a couple of years ago (a local pub team could have done better) but by international standards poor.

    Scrummage was at best average, take Adam Jones away and it becomes awful. Bear in mind Wales have played the two weakest scrummaging sides in the 6N and the problem becomes obvious. To be fait Gethin was just back from injury so can be expected to improve next game but alternative Rhys Gill just looked out of his depth against Ireland who are seriously weak in scrum area.

    Real lack of power in front 5 - again. Although Ian Evans is playing some of his best rugby.

    Total lack of consistent driving around fringes.

    Breakdown work is predictable - too few players committed, essentially relying on the two flankers (Lydiate was very good but to my mind a 6.5 not a genuine blind side) too much lying over ball.

    The way to beat Wales is clear. Drag the game into the trenches, commit players to driving through the breakdown (Scotland did pretty well there) and get a ref who has read the breakdown laws sometime in the last 2 years.

    And finally there is the problem of Mike Phillips. For all his size and strength he is a liability. His decision making was slow, his passing neither quick enough nor accurate enough.

    France should be favourites against Wales - better forwards, and the back are not bad either!

  • Comment number 57.

    As an Englishman who lives in Twickenham, I know Wales will give England a very tough time at Twickenham but lets all hope the game is a good one.
    ----------------
    At 22:16 12th Feb 2012, Bear wrote:

    Up until this week, I used to log on to the BBC website maybe 20 times a day, at work and home. However, the new BBC Sport website is, quite frankly, rubbish. It looks like a cross between the Mail on Line and Grazia. Navigation is difficult and the layout (cropping of photos and the headlines in the middle of a page in a narrow column for example) is highly unimpressive.
    Why is this web site the only one that I have seen where, in the football tables, the points are in the middle column?
    What right minded sports fan thought of that? There is too much video, I log on to READ articles, not watch a talking head, I can do that on the tv. And why is GOSSIP in big letters, trying to be important? Are you The Daily Star? The vast majority of your readers don't give a toss about GOSSIP!
    Why has Ben Gallop not posted any responses on his blogs? Together with Cait and her friend Doctor Ian, the impression given is that the BBC employees are dismissive, condescending and utterly arrogant towards the people that use this site. I now use the Guardian, Cricinfo and others for my sports updates.
    I only log on to the BBC to check if anything has changed, I dont read it anymore and know I'm not the only one who does this, very few like it so don't get any funny ideas about your 'viewing figures'. One final question...what drove you to you change it? Did a 'suit' (or 'open necked check shirt') decide that the budget needed spending and this was the best way to do it?
    ---------
    My nephew is just out of University and he could produce a better webpage than the new BBC mess. Somebody who chose this needs making redundant before they make an even bigger mistake.

  • Comment number 58.

    Was it the Scots that gave us a hell of a game at times yesterday, or was it us that went a bit off the boil?

    It seemed to be much more of an even contest apart from the time the Scots had those yellow cards to contend with.

    I thought the Scots played very well, and had they been able to avoid those sinbins, then maybe, I reckon they could have taken us.

    So, the question remains, were Wales 'off the boil', or have the Scots found a bit of form?

    I hope that the Scots are on the way up again. It's not nice to be down the bottom end of that table time and time again (as we Welsh are well aware of).

    Anyway, don't count your Twickers chickens before they hatch.

    The English will be waiting for us...

  • Comment number 59.

    Much has been made about who Wales are missing. What about England? Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood. All I believe are likely to be in contention for the Wales again.

    And lets face it, Wales only won in Ireland because of the referees inability to give Bradley Davies a straight red. And the compounded it by giving the Irish a yellow and awarding a non-penalty to Wales.

    England have won two difficult games away with an inexperienced team. I would expect that maybe Dickson and Morgan will start against the Welsh and if Wales think the Twickenham game is in the bag, then they will get a very rude awakening.

  • Comment number 60.

    Think Tuliagi's return will be a big boost for England. Wales have massive power in the back line and we need a big tackler in the centre to negate the threat of Roberts especially.

    Wales have played far better rugby but England have a chance at Twickenham.

    Regardless of a very good start from Wales it would be dangerous for them to underestimate England. I don't think their players will make that mistake but the fans may do.

    Hope North is fit to play as he's been great to watch.

    Scotland will get the wooden spoon.

  • Comment number 61.

    Good one Justin, made me chuckle there. Bitter much? You know you're doing well others are getting jealous.

    Yes the lineout is an issue, but by my reckoning most international teams would struggle with their 4th and 5th choice 2nd row. Yes the Scottish forwards dominated at times but couldn't make the most of it, and this is a Welsh team still missing half its first choice pack, I'm pretty pleased with that!

    To the Irish guy above who complained about the Welsh killing the ball on the floor: blackest pot ever! Ireland have for years been the NH masters at doing this so go cry elsewhere.

    Regarding Wales "winning" the game due to the sin-binning, pretty sure that we kept out France for an hour in the world cup whilst down to 14 men, yes it gives an advantage but you still need to be clinical to make the most of it. Wales did that brilliantly yesterday.

    All in all am very pleased with how things have gone thus far. Should have more forwards back for the England match (let's all pray Wyn-Jones is there!) and I think it will be a cracking contest. Wales on paper are favourites but Twickenham is never an easy place to win, and with their returning players I'm thinking it will be a close game.

  • Comment number 62.

    Of course the worrying thing for Scotland is where are the wins going to come from now in the tournament? Next up they've got France at home. France would still be my favourites for the tournament though it's tough to judge too much about them given the change in management from the world cup and that we've only seen them at home against Italy so far. I'd still say overall France are the top team in the northern hemisphere and so should be favourites.

    Following on from that Scotland have two away trips to Ireland, decent side, and Italy, who have shown they're no slouches at home. I've said it's too early to talk about slams by any team so maybe it's too early to be talking about whitewashes too but the sad fact is that Scotland blew a good shot yesterday and are now staring down the barrell of a very dangerous gun. Bizarrely this is with them stringing together some of their best rugby for years.

  • Comment number 63.

    Am I the only one that thinks Wales have been LUCKY to win both games. Beat Ireland with the last kick of the game from a dubious penalty. Beat Scotland through ill discpline from the Scots and were in actual fact looking as though Scotland could do some serious damage. There is NO way they will beat the French and the English will not want to lose at Twickenham.

    Grand Slam for England or France and Wales to be beaten by Italy.

  • Comment number 64.

    @roddersrugbyref:

    Fair enough, you may be right about players knowing where they stand in terms of the laws. Where the confusion lies is with what they can get away with :-)

    I do agree that a penalty would have been a fair conclusion to the De Luca incident.

    Rugby has always seemed relatively fair when it comes to punishment vs crime, particularly when compared to football where a couple of misjudged tackles can have a man sent off.

    Repeated infringements on or near your own line that prevent a try result in a penalty try. Infringements in your own half result in goal kicking opportunities. All fair punishments.

    However, I don't think that the De Luca tackle deserved a yellow. It was stupid but Davies wasn't going to do any damage from a speculative over hit hack through. Penalty and a warning for the player would have been sufficient.

    The second yellow was more justified in my opinion but still a little harsh. Wales were well into Scotland territory and in full flow at that time, though not yet in a scoring position.

    As for dropping balls with the line begging, the Hogg 'drop' was proved not to be a knock on and the one on the Welsh line just before half time was from the helping hand of Gethin Jenkins off his feet and interfering. Not much you can do about that.

  • Comment number 65.

    Wales are 2 for 2 in wins but both wins were won on the back of having extra men because of sin bins of the opposition and also bad ref'ing. If the ref had made correct decisions in both games I think Wales could easily and probably be 0 for 2!
    Very very lucky side but luck will only get you so far!

  • Comment number 66.

    63 - what a good wind up merchant you are!
    Wales have scored 6 tries so far, and threatened to add more. 2 English charge downs are obviously much better!

    ha ha

  • Comment number 67.

    Agree with #61 re: Justin150, although he does have a point about Mike Philips when he isnt on the front foot with quick ball, he needs more snap to his play, too often wants a step or two away from a ruck before releasing a pass.
    as far as not committing ENOUGH players to the ruck are you mad!! secure the ball minimum numbers possible, players on their feet are playing.
    Not sure how many people would subscribe to seeing rugby in the 'trenches', 12 man ruck, 80 yard rolling maul up the jumper rugby, no thanks.

    No welshman is getting carried away or expecting to win at the crumbling fortress that is Twickers but we hope.... and pray...

    #59 wales scored with BD off the field, even if he had been red carded, does that mean ferris wouldnt have made that tackle and given away the penalty? Ireland didnt take the advantage when wales were down to 14 for 10 minutes so what makes you think they would have done for the remaining time?

  • Comment number 68.

    Scotland were lacking something yesterday and are struggling to score. However for the first half ot the match the game was 3-3.
    This was not a gland slam wining performance by wales.
    Yes Wales did score some trys when we went down to 13 men after some questionable decisions.

    Wales will more than likely beat a poor england team but will have no chance against the experienced french.

  • Comment number 69.

    With the current Welsh side, you have proven world class players across the entire team. Yesterdays win was down to being a class outfit; there was no element of luck or a helping french hand about it. Pure and simple, Wales are a very good side that in my view, had of got to the World Cup final, would have won it.
    The rest of the home nations are just going to have to live with that for a few seasons whilst their own players come into their own. For England and Scotland the signs are encouraging as players now should (injuries permitting) go on for years to come and into the next World Cup, not forgetting a Lions tour in between. By the time that World Cup comes along we should see parity between England and Wales again and Scotland not that far behind. Ireland really need to start to get some fresh faces in before long otherwise they will be once again left behind. Wales - France, Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy would be a safe bet for how this years 6 nations will end up.

  • Comment number 70.

    Bryn,

    Really appreciate the fact that you do read and respond on your blog, that is commendable, not something your colleagues in F1 like to do.

    I don't disagree Wales were ruthless, but it is a fact yellow cards did give Wales a flattering scoreline. Yesterday it looked as though the yellows were daffodils flourishing for the Welsh. Mr Poite did not have a great game, from a Scottish perspective. You responded to my original post, that the cards were crafted from Welsh pressure on Scotland, fair enough. But when Scotland applied pressure, unfortunately the Welsh indiscipline was not pinged.
    ...wasn't Gethin lucky then when he struck the ball out of Jacobsens hand, whilest lying on the ground, that was clear for all watching on TV. Scottish pressure, Welsh indiscipline, but no card.
    ...or in the second half, when Blair took a tap and go, he was set upon after only two strides, Scottish pressure, Welsh indiscipline, no reprocussions. Even JD stated it in his commentary and he is a true welsh rugby fan.
    ...Wales were very adept at slowing the ball yesterday at the breakdown, they got away with it but they were having to slow pace, as at times they were struggling and did not appear to be enjoying a team that was there to lose, putting in big hits or running it back. It was "helter skelter stuff" to quote Bill Mclaren. I saw two teams lay on a great game, regardless of any national biases.

    So based on two yellow card tries, Wales did win.

    But I really did not see the Welsh "move up a gear" or "Blitz", in relation to Scotland, rather the Ref played a pivotal role. There were definitely two teams in the game and if that was not a huge step forward for Scotland, then it was a real step back by the Welsh. Any event, both teams move forward to differing challenges, I do believe Scotland are getting closer to becoming real team with threat.

  • Comment number 71.

    I can see Wales having too much for England (after all, apart from a brief period against Italy, England haven't shown much), but Wales will need to put together a better performance than they did against Scotland to threaten this France. Triple crown? Almost certainly. Grand slam? Less than 50-50, I'd say.

  • Comment number 72.

    Right, time to address some of the 'idiot box' comments here. Now, any Grand Slam talk is indeed far too early to consider for Wales, and there are plenty of areas to improve upon before that could be achieved. However, there seems to be an increasing amount of disregard for the Welsh performances of late, with an emphasis on luck playing its part, so let's tackle those.

    Regarding Ireland, Bradley Davies sent off or not, Wales proved to be as attacking a threat in that game with 14 players as they were with 15. With the go forward of the Welsh backs, there is no reason to suggest that Wales would not have been in a similar position to score a penalty/drop goal/try towards the end of that game. Lucky to not see red, yes, lucky to win the game, hardly (and that's without addressing the likely Ryan Jones try).

    Regarding Scotland, yes, plenty of points came from cards, however, anyone bothering to watch the game should surely have seen how Wales upped the tempo at the start of the second half, and created a crucial score with 30 players on the field. There are few question marks over the Scottish yellows, so I'm not sure where luck comes into it. I remember plenty of Wales v England encounters in the last decade where English wins have been decided through Welsh yellow cards, yet those wins were never dismissed as being lucky for England.

    Anyone dismissing both victories as lucky needs to be back to rugby school and reapply their studies, that or try taking the blinkers off. Why these pages need to collapse into such pointless shouting is beyond me, so many 'observations' seem to be constructed on myth and hearsay - watch the games guys...

  • Comment number 73.

    FrostAndFire, England havn't shown much for the last year now but lets look at the record. 12 wins out of 15, including 2 out of 3 against the magnificent Wales and the loss was with our second team.

    The world will tremble when we do show something.

    PS the England thread is almost on 200 posts now.

  • Comment number 74.

    @thelastkingofscotland I'm with you when it comes
    To Robinson. He is doing everything right but the players are failing him time and time again. He can't keep going on defending them. I think he'll walk after this year.

  • Comment number 75.

    Dragonbitesback - interesting comments "I hope England manage to lift their level so the Welsh boys get a proper practice game before we face the World-cup runners up !"

    Imagine an England supporter saying "I hope Wales will be better to help us practice for a proper game" - they would be crucified for 'being arrogant' but then again only English people can be arrogant.

    We may not be great and I don't expect us (England) to win but it's a bit OTT to describe it as a practice match.

  • Comment number 76.

    Welsh have become very very arrogant over the past couple of years. I used to really admire them now im just sick of hearing them complain about some excuse when they lose and before games they talk like they are better then the all blacks!

    Hop down of your high horse please.

  • Comment number 77.

    I think Wales played well yesterday, though not as well as in Dublin last week. We obviously benefitted from the two yellows, and scored two tries during the period, and I feel we relaxed a bit too much after that.
    Regarding the yellow cards, I think the first could've gone either way but the second was a blatant professional foul. However, people seem to forget that we only conceded 3 points when down to 13 men in Murrayfield last year, so 'blitzing' a team with 2 players off is by no means a foregone conclusion.
    We can improve another 20-25% by the England game, especially with key players coming back, and we are probably fovourites. However it is very dangerous to write off England because they are at home and have important players back themselves. I'm hoping for a cracking game, and that we prove to be too strong for them.

  • Comment number 78.

    Nicol and Robinson - The perfect Double act. Andy "If Scotland can just cross the line another six times we'll be right back in it" Nicol and Andy "It's everybody else's fault" Robinson. Hopefully someone will wake up and move them on soon. The two Andys -Hopefully it's goodnight from him and it's goodnight from him.

  • Comment number 79.

    Really enjoyed the game and felt for Scotland as the forwards at least put in a fantastic display. Thought overall Wales edged it even if you take away the cards and account for the scores when players were binned, Wales were just that bit more clinical when it was needed. That said the final 10 mins by Scotland were superb.. Bravehearts indeed. Their tails were up and they were not going down without a fight. Wales were run ragged at the end!

    Wanted to comment on the breakdown. I thought we'd got rid of hands in the ruck. Both sides were bad with their infringements slowing good ball down. The refs have really got to get to grips. I don't care if your the first non tackler to arrive as soon as that ball is on the ground and there's someone from the other side is competing it's a ruck and no hands allowed!! And when you're off your feet.... to the bin you go!!

    Both sides defensively had good games and then to have that extra few seconds to line up ready for the next attack ..... well it makes line breaks and overlaps almost impossible to come by!

  • Comment number 80.

    I am clearly wrong as no one else as mentioned it - but on the replays at the end of the game I thought the ball going loose that led to the hack through from Davies and yellow card to De Lucas came off a massive knock on from the Welsh - I didn't think it was in the tackle...clearly a trick of the camera or did anyone else notice this - and I have no bias on this!

  • Comment number 81.

    #61 I am not bitter, actually I really admire the Welsh backs and rated North, Priestland and Toby F as the young stars of the RWC.

    Lineout: lets nail this one. It has nothing to do with the Welsh playing their 4th and 5th choice locks, nor is it totally the fault of the hooker (maybe a little). Simple fact is that none of the Welsh back row are line out threats - it is a point I have made before, Lydiate should be, but is not and that is an issue he needs to address. Effect is the Wales go into lineouts with 2 targets, most international teams have 3 or 4 so the 2 Welsh locks are outnumbered in the air which puts pressure on hooker.

    In any event the Welsh locks have problems. AWJ looked like a young POC when he started but his progress has stagnated over the last 3 years, in a Lions side he would struggle to make squad. Bradley is a player I really rate (tip tackle excepted) but in the trenches he is not physical enough. We have seen that a AWJ/BD second row results in problems at scrum time because not enough power - BD is however a player you want as gaps open up later in game. Personally I rate him higher than AWJ. Chateris is a player I have never rated, he is a big lump and until RWC brought nothing to international rugby. RWC saw him be a defensive rock and was a real step up in class, to a decent international player nothing more.

    #67 You are right that aim is to secure ball at breakdown with minimum number of players but... and this is a big qualification ... too few and opposition wises up and puts more men into breakdown and drives you off. Wales were fortunate in that Irish back row was half a yard to slow to really implement that and Scotland did not use that bit between the ears often enough to take consistent advantage - however as English back row is even slower than Ireland's this should not be a problem for Wales, but France will be a different matter.

  • Comment number 82.

    Who is the referee at Twickenham for the England-Wales game? With the right man giving yellow cards against England, Wales should make a big step towards a grand slam. Then it all rests on the match against France...

  • Comment number 83.

    Justin150.... I do agree with some of your comments but I think you'll find that what rankles is the disparaging air to what you attempt as fair comment.

    Wales do have areas where they need to improve as you have quite rightly pointed out and reading this blog I don't think many will disagree with most of what you say. It's just the anger behind the words that comes through is what gets up mine and others noses.

    Stick to the facts and lose the "pub side" comments and you'll get a better response.

  • Comment number 84.

    As a welsh supporter I found yesterdays game quite frustrating. At times it was cracking rugby from both sides and a Scotish team much imporved on last week but I didn't feel like the Welsh played that well. But thats good news for us in that we are 2 wins from 2 not playing anywhere near our best and missing a few key players. I hope AWJ, Warburton and Rees are back for Twickers.

    I thought the ref yesterday was dreadful for both sides. He let the players lip affect his decisions too much and unless i was watching a different game I saw both teams holding on at the breakdown when opposing teams had their hands on the ball and had the turnover.

    I am slightly baffled at this 'Wales only won cos of the Yellow cards' talk. In the WC semi Wales played for 60mins with 14 guys nd lost by 1 point. In murryfield last year Wales were down to 13 for a significant period and the Scots only managed 3 points. It's about taking your chances when you are given them. A stat during the Ireland game showed that Wales are the worst team at scoring when up a man and the worst team at defending when down a man during the 6 nations history so ...

    I'm feeling confident that Wales are moving on but only a fool will expect an easy ride against England. I'm confident we can win but its going to be a 5-10 point game either way

    All this talk of 'Welsh arrogance' after 2 posters who are clearly WUM trying to get a rise. Come on people rise above it.

  • Comment number 85.

    I agree with many that the ref had a very poor game yesterday. However all 3 sin-bin offences were correct decisions. As for the Hogg fumble - the referee didn't have much choice: the laws do not allow him to refer such cases to the fourth official so he had to make the call himself. Hogg clearly dropped the ball and without the benefit of a slow-motion replay it would have been impossible for the ref to see that he had managed to get a hand back on the ball before it hit the ground.(So all in all a "fair" decision, albeit technically incorrect).

    There is much debate about teams losing players to the sin bin and suffering as a result. I think we have to distinguish between "stupid behaviour" offences - such as Bradley Davies' where there is no connection between the offence and what is happening on the pitch and "professional fouls" (yes there is such a thing, even though it may not exist in the rulebook!) where an offence is committed to prevent the opposing team from gaining an advantage. In the Wales/Scotland game all 3 sin-bins were down to pressure applied by the opponents: had the offences not been committed then both Wales and Scotland had very good chances of converting pressure into points, and therefore, as Bryn and others have rightly said, the Scottisch sin binnings cannot be seen as a "turning point" in the true sense of the word.

    Finally, Wales have had some fortune in both games so far, and could have lost both games. However, many of the players they are missing due to injury are world class players that would get into any of the other 6N teams. On current form they should beat England and Italy fairly comfortably, and if they are anywhere near full-strength by the time they face France they should at least be in with a chance of a win.

  • Comment number 86.

    Interesting isn't it? England really have nothing to lose, according to Stephen Jones in The Times (and various other medja pundits) all Wales have to do is turn up at Twickenham, run a few training moves with their god-like backs and....job done!

    So, what if a written-off England (with a newly found sense of pride) decide to do an Ireland 2011 and just get stuck in to a Welsh pack that at times looks decidely flaky against both Ireland and Scotland. Although to be fair, the Welsh pack know their limitations and they are cute at flopping on to the wrong side of rucks when quick ball would be dangerous.

    Could be entertaining

    Also, the weather could be a real factor in this. The Wales v Scotland game was played under a closed roof, would have been interesting to see how either side would have played in the conditions for the Rome match.

  • Comment number 87.

    Diogenes the ref for the England v Wales game will be Steve Walsh, which I've got mixed feelings about to be honest. He's obviously got a bit of history with the England team but then again I thought he was pretty good in the World Cup and his performance in the England v France game was good. Apparently though he was given a stern talking to by the IRB for not carding people for tip tackles so he may be quite hot on this issue.

  • Comment number 88.

    I must clear something up here regarding the canceled game, since the bbc are obviously unable of the most basic research to add credibility. The decision for the KO of the France game was not down to french TV or french federation. Only one set of people make these decisions and its the 6nations board, run by mostly british people i believe. French TV had asked for the game to be moved, and the federation correctly asks why Mr Pearson (who personally I dislike immensly) a. says the pitch is fine at 7, before changing his mind an hour later. b. why did he not have the balls to come up and explain his decision to the TV.


    regarding the under soil heating, the site where the stadium is built is on top of a combination of gas which is therefore dangerous. Im amazed that in this country there is no law preventing the media from talking utter rubbish, completely untrue.

    thank you.

    p.s well done wales, unlucky scotland, lucky england and brave italy

  • Comment number 89.

    @MD2011 #80:

    I thought exactly the same at the time. Replaying it looks like it may have just been a ricochet off the intended receiver. It's not absolutely clear though. It does shoot out at an angle that would suggest contact from the Welsh direction but you would have expected the ref to have a decent view of it.

    As you say nobody else seems to be talking about it so maybe we were both seeing things.

  • Comment number 90.

    I agree with Mervatron2 that Wales didn't play all that well, and also concerning the ability to take advantage of numerical superiority, and the refereeing. There's been comment about the Welsh handling in the rucks but on many occasions Welsh players who were still on their feet were unable to get the ball because of Scots holding on who were never penalised. I thought Gatland was commendably restrained in his passing reference to this aspect.
    But my main grouse is about the TV coverage - constant cutting away from the play to show us replays or innumerable shots of Andy Robinson, so that the viewer missed touch kicks and other plays, leaving the commentators to play catch-up and the viewer disoriented at the lack of continuity. Believe it or not, BBC, most of us watching this programme wanted to see 30 men (or 29, or even 28 . . .) playing rugby and not pictures of managers, the crowd, the substitutes or even that manager again.

  • Comment number 91.

    Shaping up to be a real cracker at twickers, you can never under-estimate England on home soil, admittedly Wales on paper look the better team at the moment but the 6nations always throws a surprise or two along the way. Didn't think Wales performed to their potential on sunday but did enough, got to feel sorry for the Scots, thought they deserved better but are improving all the time and will give any opposition a real game in their remaining matches.

    Hoping for a welsh victory in two weeks but i'm certainly not getting too carried away at the moment, England have grinded out two ugly wins away from home so far so hats off to them, a win is a win and as a mainly newly formed side the future looks a lot brighter than when MJ was in control.

    Roll on a week saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 92.

    @Waspsbathsomewhere The comment on whether the English Rugby team could give Wales a good warm up ahead of the Welsh is indeed 'dragon tongue in cheek'. But as a Welsh guy who admired the English class of 2003 I do wonder how it is that English playing talent is not bursting at the seams. Is it because of the RFU structure (failing) and gap with the premiership teams of cultivating a playing pattern allied to nuturing talent or simply a lack of current talent? I for one would welcome back a strong English side playing stylish rugby and admire any team that takes a leaf out of SH approach... open entertaining rugby that is based on both brawn and skill / creativity. Look at the young Welsh talent that has been brought through the ranks and compare / contrast to England and Ireland to a lesser extent. England's current playing pattern is based on power but seem unable to galvanise consistent quick ball.. the essence for successful international rugby. Wales are not without their problems but seem to have found a way to compensate in open play ... my worry is that their line-out will be exposed by the French and very possibly the English and the loose represents Wale's best opportunity to gain parity. In the meantime England to develop their playing style probably based on the better more progressive premiership clubs and put in place a top-notch coaching team who can see further ahead then the next international win. I agree with most of comments highlighting the potential of Scotland being a good team if they can find the right balance across half-backs and centres.

  • Comment number 93.

    80 and 89: yes it seemed to me to be a welsh knock on too deliberate or not. This was missed by the ref just like the welsh handling in the ruck causing jacobsen to fumble the try scoring oportunity prior to half time. The ref did see the knock on (that wasn't) that preceeded disalowed hoggs try. These are errors are part of the game. according to JD on the BBC coverage its Scotlands fault though as they should be making more chances...
    If you have a reputation for fumbling the ball at the last minute the ref will expect to see it. Decisions always go with the in form team, just look at NZ.

  • Comment number 94.

    Elf, at last a balanced view on here. the Wales team has looked stronger on paper, but they are tarting to mount injuries and England have players comming back. the last 2 weeks have almost been a victory for our second team of 2 years ago.

    No other nation has tried to strip down a team the way we have, then had injuries, no body has even attempted it. Despite this we have 2 wins.

    It looks like Wales will have to face us without George North which is bad for them. But what I look forward to seeing is how Robshaw measures up to Warburton, he hasn't faced his quality yet in the white shirt. I hope he gets Ben Morgan putting him on the front foot, it might give him the edge that he needs to achieve parity.

  • Comment number 95.

    hungryhaggis... sympathies on the Welsh getting away with a few key decisions on spoiling but then the Scottish players definitely need to be more clinical when the opportunity arises... e.g. the final pass given to Hogg should have been on the button rather than him having to stretch and re-gather and some of the breaks by the Scottish forwards were first class but often lacked support on the shoulder. The great NZ sides seem to pop the ball up knowing the guys around them will be on-hand. I'm not sure whether this is a skills issue for the Scots or simply them having to develop their playing style / support positions as a team (change your centre pairing anyway!). Hog & Lamont brothers are class allied with an excellent pack... so the raw material seems better advanced than England !

  • Comment number 96.

    Hi
    Yet again this weekend the Camera work on the 6Nations was rubbish. Italy v England Wales v Scotland. The players and the viewer deserve better. Whats going on BBC why cant you address this problem
    For year on year we complain about the camera work of the 6Nations, for year on year we are ignored. The camera work on the BBC 6Nations is childlike.
    In truth you damn about the paying public. Complaints always come back with the same answer. The BBC will look at it later. Why cant the BBC turn off the close up camera during a live game. Why cant the BBC stay with the game while in play. I know I am talking to children at the BBC here, and you could not care less about your customers, because we are forced to pay the licence fee whatever. The BBC are the terrible at broadcasting sport. Even in other sporting events like swimming. The BBC idea of a race is to show one swimming hat bobing up and down rather than the whole race. Olympics, forget it. It wont be worth watching on the BBC. We will be lucky to see 10% of it. Not that the BBC cares. Can I have my licence fee back so I can afford to go to another broadcaster. The BBC is rubbish.
    I have got to the point where I would even accept an answer on a postcard from the BBC. Answer this please. What is it that is preventing us from seeing the game/sport on the BBC?

  • Comment number 97.

    I'm a bit dissapointed that there seem to be so many bad losers in Scotland.

    Both sides were as bad as each other regarding the infringing, which the ref was happy to let go.

    The whole momentum of the game had already changed before your first yellow, as Wales had scored. You did go down to 13 but for only 1 play which Wales never scored off. But scored when you went back to 14 and decided to make the third dull move of not defending the blind side.

    Yes Scotland didnt take 1 or 2 chances, but Wales also missed 2 or 3 and were prevented by Lamonts offside takle of another. Wales were also down to 14 2 twice as North was injured for while play continued for 2-3 minutes and Scotland couldn't get close to score.

    Althought the Ref's made a poor decision on the knock on, stop blaming him and blame delucker fora shoking pass!!!

    Oh yeah Wales 3rd choice hooker and and outside half at full back for most of the game, backrower in the 2nd row as 3 front line 2nd rowers not available, new cap open side normally a blindside or 2nd row, with 3 opensides not there(include M/williams as still class). Scots without a prop back row and 10. Played at their best Wales played within their best, and the result said it all!!!

  • Comment number 98.

    92.At 14:27 13th Feb 2012, Dragonbitesbacks wrote:

    On the England / Ireland players coming through the ranks its fair to say that right up to U20's the last 4 years have been oustanding with only NZ being a step ahead really. It should start to show dividends over the next 2/3 years provided the guys get game time and some bold selections are made.

    I'm fairly sure with the right direction England can build a fair old squad though from those I've watched come through and in fairness a few of the newer faces haven't exactly disgraced themselves against rather more experienced opponents so far given time together they will be fine particularly with several players you would think have a good shout at starting returning Lawes, Wood and Tuilagi?

  • Comment number 99.

    All this talk of "If Scotland were able to avoid those two yellow cards" . . . . . they were . . . . by not cheating!

    The game was very good played by two good teams, which lead to another great spectacle. During the 21 phases that lead to the Jacobson "Knock on" the Scotsman had his foot in touch so arguments could be had regarding the linesman's inability to notice infringements which renders the argument of hands in the ruck causing the knock on nul and void.

    great game, leading well to a triple crown match where we can be confident of facing a poor England team

  • Comment number 100.

    I've enjoyed reading Bryn's blog and, as I'm a Welshman living in Scotland, John Beattie's blog too since I discovered them during the World Cup. I've decided to add my tuppenceworth for what it is worth....

    The time to talk about Grand Slams is just after the final whistle in the final match. We've had good wins against teams that could (maybe should) have beaten us, had a bit of luck with some refereeing decisions, though we took our chances very well when they presented themselves. England will be no more walkovers in 2 weeks than Scotland were yesterday. Of course we are capable of beating England, Italy and France but they are equally capable of beating us. We can be confident in our ability to defend and score tries when the time comes but everyone supporting Wales - media and fans alike - would do well to remember how quickly it can all go pear shaped. I don't think the players will underestimate the challenge ahead of them. They are well drilled professionals who respect the teams they play against without being deferential. You could see that at the end of the match yesterday - no jumping up and down and high fiving at the final whistle, just a few shakes of the hand and pats on the back and a sense of relief at a hard fought victory over tenacious and skillful opponents who, but for three errors of judgement by their players and one huge error by the ref, could well have been celebrating an away win themselves. So let's debate the yellow cards, the dodgy knock on decision, George North's ankle, Stuart Hogg's potential, how the Welsh lineout sorted itself out etc but lets leave talk of Slams and Crowns until they have been (hopefully) won or (hopefully not) lost.

    PS - I didn't like the way Phillips went looking for that penalty in the 1st half. In the words of Nigel Owens "This isn't soccer"
    PPS - imagine a Lions pack featuring Denton, Grey, Lydiate, Warburton, Charteris etc...very exciting for 2013 in Oz
    PPPS - looking forward to both Wales and Scotland v Italy to see Parisse up against Faletau and Denton. They should be great battles of great no8s

 

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