Wales in recent times have had a very decent record over Scotland, both home and away, yet with Scotland’s senior side on their best run of form in the 6 Nations for a decade, Saturday’s match was one to be very nervous about. With rugby world cup qualifying hanging in the balance for the women, and for the U20’s aiming to keep their unbeaten record, the stakes were high in all three of the weekend’s games.
Wales managed, yet again, to grind out a very hard fought win away from home. It was their third away win on the trot, and away ‘Slam’ if you will, which is one of the hardest things to do in this tournament depending on your match fixtures.
Again it wasn’t a pretty affair, with this match breaking the record for attempts of penalty kicks at goal in the tournament’s history. A mixture of confusion at scrums, stupidity from players and a referee unable to exert his authority on the game early enough led to a hugely stop start and frustrating affair.
Wales’ forwards did the hard work, securing possession in their scrums and lineouts to work themselves into the field positions where Scotland at times seemed only too happy to cough up the three points. Wales were hardly any better, handing numerous penalty chances of their own for the boot of Laidlaw to slot over with ease.
They did however manage the one try of the game, coming off the back of a George North break. Harder work was made of it than necessary perhaps, but after a few recycled phases hooker Hibbard was able to cross over from short range.
With the boot of Halfpenny knocking over most of the points, with only a small wobble in the first half as he battled against the bitter wind, Wales managed to see the game out comfortably. With Italy making such a close match of it in Twickenham against England, the points difference going into next weekend’s decider with England is now a lot closer than it could have been. Wales need to either win 8 points outright, or win by 7 points and prevent England from scoring two tries, as Wales currently lead them in the try count 7 tries to 5.
If Wales win with a big enough margin not only to they deny England the Grand Slam, but they deny them the championship also, and in doing so can retain the title. England have never won the Grand Slam in Cardiff, and Wales will do their utmost to prevent that from happening, but most importantly they will be giving their all to secure the title for themselves.
Result: Scotland 18 – 28 Wales
The Wales U20’s team has been an absolute joy to behold in this tournament. With hardy forwards, controlling halfbacks and an incredibly skilled backline, they’ve been able to play all types of rugby in their march towards a potential Grand Slam.
Their performance last Friday evening against Scotland was their best so far. Securing dominance in the set piece, it didn’t take long for their backs to break loose as centre Allen, full back Jordan Williams, wing Warren and scrum half Rhodri Williams all scoring, indeed Aaron Warren crossed twice.
The composure in which Sam Davies marshalled his backline was especially pleasing to see, with superb distribution and tactical kicking. What was most pleasing however was to see these young players able to draw the man and pass, to in short execute the basics of backline play which has been so sadly missing from the senior side.
It was a good, confidence boosting win, but they like the senior side, now face a winner takes all match against England in Parc Eirias in Colwyn Bay. England’s U20’s have such a good points difference that if they win, they secure the championship. Wales have no option therefore other than to win. In doing so they will secure the championship, but also will have completed the Grand Slam. It will be a fine reward for a team that has grafted so hard and produced such good displays of rugby. There’s no doubt about it however that their hardest game is to come, and it will need their best performance to date if they are to finish the tournament on a high.
Result: Scotland U20’s 17 – 42 Wales
Wales’ women went into Sunday’s game knowing that they had to win to keep their rugby world cup qualification hopes alive.
It was a hard fought game, and Wales entered the break at half time with only the narrowest of leads, with just a penalty separating the two sides. Two tries from Wales saw them stretch ahead of Scotland and it was enough in the end to see them win the game, keeping Scotland scoreless.
Wales now sit above Italy in the table due to their points difference. They have to finish fourth or better in this year’s tournament to qualify for the world cup, so will have to either equal or better whatever result Italy manage to get against Ireland next weekend. The tougher element to this is that Wales face England, who despite missing numerous players, are still one of the toughest teams to play in this tournament.
It will take yet another huge display from the women in red, but with so much to fight for, they will be throwing everything at England to give themselves the best chance possible to secure the world cup qualification they are desperately after.
Result: Scotland Women 0 – 13 Wales Women