Wales grind Scotland down

2012-02-12 18:58

Cardiff - Leigh Halfpenny scored two tries in a second-half surge as Wales made it two wins out of two in this season's Six Nations with a 27-13 victory over Scotland at the Millennium Stadium here on Sunday.

The match was level at 3-3 at half-time but tries from wing Alex Cuthbert and fullback Halfpenny, who crossed twice on his way to a match haul of 22 points, saw Wales pull away.

For Scotland, defeat left them searching for a first win in Cardiff since 2002 and facing another battle to avoid the wooden spoon following last weekend's 13-7 loss to England.

But new flyhalf Greig Laidlaw, in for the retired Dan Parks, did at least score Scotland's first try in five Tests.

Their cause was not helped by being down to 13 men early in the second half after backs Nick de Luca and Rory Lamont were both sin-binned.

Wales were forced into a late change when captain Sam Warburton withdrew shortly before kick-off with the 'dead leg' that had seen him miss the second half of the tournament opening 23-21 win against Ireland in Dublin last weekend.

Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler was handed his Wales debut in Warburton's place on the openside, with former skipper Ryan Jones taking over as captain.

Scotland's request for the Millennium's retractable roof to be closed, in order to provide ideal conditions for running rugby, was granted.

But in World Cup semi-finalists Wales they were up against one of the best ball-playing sides in the Six Nations.

However, Scotland had the first scoring chance only for Laidlaw's fifth minute penalty from 40 metres out to drift just wide of the posts.

But Scotland went ahead in the 22nd minute when Wales were penalised on their 22 for handling in the ruck and Laidlaw kicked the visitors into a 3-0 lead before Halfpenny's long-range penalty tied the match at 3-3.

Scotland though drove towards the Welsh line only for prop Allan Jacobsen to knock-on when in sight of that elusive try.

Wales, with Shingler starring alongside Man-of-the-Match Dan Lydiate, made 97 tackles to Scotland's 47 in the first half.

But Wales, just as England did at Murrayfield, caught Scotland cold with a try shortly after the restart.

No 8 Toby Faletau made a strong charge that took Wales to within sight of Scotland's line and eventually, with Laidlaw missing a tackle, the ball was worked right and wing Cuthbert went in for a try.

Halfpenny converted and Wales were 10-3 in front.

Scotland's day got worse when centre De Luca was sin-binned after tackling Jonathan Davies without the ball as his Welsh counterpart chased a kick downfield. Halfpenny landed the ensuing penalty and, in a matter of minutes, Wales had gone from parity to a 10-point lead.

Laidlaw's second penalty reduced the gap to 13-6 but, with Scotland still a man down, Wales had another try.

Jamie Roberts powered away after Wales won quick lineout ball and the centre was hauled down short of the line. The ball though was recycled speedily and Cuthbert sent in Halfpenny for a try.

Rory Lamont was then sin-binned and although Scotland were back to 14 when De Luca returned, they couldn't stop Halfpenny scoring a second try when he looped round the back of Welsh scrumhalf Mike Phillips before adding the extras.

At 27-6, Scotland were in danger of a drubbing.

They rallied with teenager Stuart Hogg, on for the injured Max Evans, going desperately close to a debut try only to have his score disallowed by French referee Romain Poite for a knock-on.

But Scotland's try famine eventually ended in the 62nd minute when, after a tap and go penalty, forwards David Denton and Richie Gray charged on before Laidlaw stretched for a score he also converted to make it 27-13 to Wales.