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Wales 26 Scotland 18

Wales 26 Scotland 18

Shane Williams proved to be the ‘thistle’ in Scotland’s side as the wing wizard gained a brace in Wales’s victory over the Auld Enemy.

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In a tense first half that was strewn with errors, only a penalty each from the boots of Stephen Jones, in for the injured Neil Jenkins, and Scotland’s Duncan Hodge were scored in the opening half an hour. Hodge’s rebounded penalty from almost 50 metres out in the 34th minute proved to be a crucial point in the game, which resulted in giving the Millennium Stadium crowd a long-awaited first try.

Mark Taylor gathered the ball and streaked away, taking Wales halfway upfield before the Scottish began to recover from the assault. Allan Bateman’s grubber kick flew over the flat Scottish back line and into the resultant gaping whole, which Williams penetrated, chipping the oval ball ahead before touching down unchallenged.

Hodge saw his bad luck continue as another of his kicks rebounded off the uprights whilst his opposite number Jones gained his second penalty of the afternoon to guide Wales into a 13-3 interval break.

Coming out with a stronger resolve in the second half, Scotland were unlucky to have a try disallowed in the fifth minute after the restart; the referee deeming Martin Leslie to have knocked the ball on in his movement to ground the ball over the Welsh line.

Leslie was awarded another effort in the 45th minute though and Hodge’s conversion, the ball this time slotting between the uprights instead of bouncing off them, reduced the Welsh advantage to 13-10.

Drawing the Welsh into a comfortable position once more, Stephen Jones continued his metronomic kicking to slot over two further Welsh penalties. With the nine-point cushion seemingly smothering the remainder of Scotland’s hope, Wales were able to put together a superb break for the Scottish line.

With recycled ball flowing fluidly from one Welsh jersey to the next, the recoiling Scottish defence were unable to prevent the onslaught. In a switch of direction a superb pass found the speedy winger Williams, hailed as a major hope for the future of Welsh rugby, and he scored the second of his double of two sensational tries in just his third appearance in a Welsh jersey.

Jones, who had put in a solid performance, gained 16 of his side’s 26 points with his conversion of Williams’s try and although Townsend grasped a late try in injury time, Wales had gained their second victory of the tournament and consigned the Scots to a fourth successive Lloyds TSB Six Nations defeat.

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