Scotland 11-18 Wales
A brave second-half comeback from Scotland wasn’t enough to end the Welsh Grand Slam dream as Warren Gatland’s side emerged victorious at Murrayfield.
In the end, Scotland had ample opportunities to win this game, but they butchered numerous chances in the opposition 22 which has been a problem throughout this campaign for Gregor Townsend’s side.
Both teams had periods of possession in the opening 10 minutes until Josh Navidi infringed offside which allowed Finn Russell to kick Scotland into a 3-0 lead.
A few minutes earlier, Scotland suffered an early blow when they lost Jamie Ritchie to injury and he was replaced by the returning Hamish Watson.
Wales responded brilliantly as they got their hands on the ball immediately after the restart. The ball was sent out to the left wing for Josh Adams and the 23-year-old produced a stunning step to get around Blair Kinghorn and touch down in the corner.
Gareth Anscombe, who started ahead of Dan Biggar, landed the conversion to give Wales a 3-7 lead after 13 minutes.
Seven minutes later, Darcy Graham lit up Murrayfield as he bounced off Josh Navidi and then danced his way through more Welsh defenders to bring play up just a few metres short of the Welsh line.
Scotland knocked the ball on but the referee brought play back for a penalty which Russell kicked to leave just a solitary point between the two teams.
A number of injuries plagued both teams at the midway point of the first half. Watson who had replaced Ritchie, had to go off due to bleeding with Fraser Brown coming on in his stead. Thankfully for Scotland, Ritchie passed his HIA so he came back on to in place of Brown. Tommy Seymour looked to suffer an arm injury as he was replaced by Byron McGuigan and for Wales, Adam Beard had to go off and he was replaced by Jake Ball.
After all of this, Anscombe restored Wales’ four-point lead when he kicked a penalty after Scotland were penalised for not rolling away.
Wales struck a further blow to Scotland soon after as they crept ever closer to the Scottish line after going through a number of phases.
Hadleigh Parkes ran a hard, direct line which brought him just short of the line and the ball was sent wide to Jonathan Davies, who after 23 phases, found a gap and powered through the tackle of Peter Horne to touch down. Anscombe was unsuccessful with his conversion attempt so, with less than 10 minutes of the first half remaining, Wales had a 6-15 lead.
Just before halftime, Anscombe had the opportunity to put his side further in front but his penalty attempt came off the post but was collected brilliantly by Parkes. In nearly worked out in Wales’ favour as the ball was spread wide to Adams who was tackled into touch just before he could attempt to ground the ball in the corner.
However, Scotland botched the resulting lineout which led to them bringing the ball back over their own line and grounding it.
The subsequent Welsh 5m scrum was played to Adams but he knocked on in contact much to the relief of the majority in Murrayfield.
A lung-busting run from Allan Dell early in the second half got the Murrayfield crowd up off their feet but like so much of what we have seen from their attack over the last few weeks, the move broke down needlessly as on this occasion, the ball was passed into touch.
Wales suffered a blow when Liam Williams left the field with just seven minutes of the second half played. Like Seymour in the first half, Williams had his arm in a make-shift sling and this will be a huge worry for Warren Gatland and Saracens head coach Mark McCall.
This paved the way for Biggar’s entrance to the game and he was on defensive duties immediately as Scotland pounded away at the Welsh line. A lineout maul was brought down just short and then Grant Gilchrist got over the whitewash on the next phase but the ball was held up.
From the resulting 5m scrum, Scotland went through numerous phases but they struggled to get over the gain line and the ball was eventually turned over by Adam Beard.
Despite this setback, Scotland continued to dominate possession and a lineout steal on halfway allowed them to exert more pressure on their opponents.
A high tackle from George North gave Scotland territory inside the Welsh 22 and they were finally rewarded for their effort when they scored their only try of the game after a piece of magic from Russell.
The out-half received the ball and immediately sent an inside pass back into the onrushing Byron McGuigan despite the inevitability of being smashed by Davies.
Grigg then put the ball through the hands where Graham was able to cross in the corner. Russell was wide with his conversion attempt so Scotland trailed 11-15.
Scotland’s injury woes continued when try-scorer Graham left the field and was replaced by Greig Laidlaw. Starting scrum-half Price went to the left wing and McGuigan went to full-back as Laidlaw took up duties at scrum-half.
More substitutions at the midway point of the second half included the re-introduction of Watson and his presence got Scotland on the front foot with some superb carrying. In the same passage of play, Wales conceded a penalty as their discipline began to wane and a kick to the corner saw a strong Scottish drive only for the maul to be brought down illegally.
Scotland went to the corner again but this time Wales did very well to stop the drive without conceding a penalty. Gregor Townend’s side went through the phases but the Welsh defence stood firm and pushed the Scots back until they turned the ball over through North.
That was Scotland’s last chance to get the game-winning try and the final few minutes were dominated by Wales who added another three points through the boot of Anscombe to seal the win.
Scotland: Blair Kinghorn (Hastings 31′), Tommy Seymour (McGuigan 21′), Nick Grigg, Peter Horne, Darcy Grahan, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Allan Dell, Stuart McInally (Brown 71′), WP Nel (Berghan 65′), Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray (Watson 62′), Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie (Watson 9′ (Brown 15′) (Ritchie 21′)), Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Greig Laidlaw, Adam Hastings, Byron McGuigan.
Wales: Liam Williams (Biggar 48′), George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies (Davies 70′), Rob Evans (Smith 62′), Ken Owens (Dee 62′), Tomas Francis (Lewis 62′), Adam Beard (Ball 21′ Beard 31′ Ball 62′), Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Aled Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.