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Saturday, 18 March, 2000, 21:23 GMT
Young: Now lay off our coach

Wales had become the butt of many jokes
Wales skipper David Young launched a blistering attack on Graham Henry's detractors after leading his team to a 26-18 Six Nations defeat of Scotland.

The players were really hurt this week with the criticism that Graham came under. It was totally uncalled for

Wales captain David Young
The match had been billed as the battle for the home nations' wooden spoon, but the build-up was completely overshadowed by the eligibility row over Wales' overseas players.

Some detractors had even suggested that the Kiwi coach's job could be under threat.

"Obviously the players expect criticism if they don't play well, that comes as part of the job," said Young.

"But the players were really hurt this week with the criticism that Graham came under.

"We thought that was totally uncalled for and unjustified.

Rogers: South African connections
"It is the same person who took us on our 10-match unbeaten run and I think you have to try get these things into perspective."

Wales were forced to drop Shane Howarth and Brett Sinkinson, who was injured anyway, from the side because of doubts over their eligibility.

But New Zealand-born Matt Cardey and England-born Peter Rogers were selected.

Thankfully for the hugely embarassed Welsh Rugby Union, it was Wales' homegrown players who shone on Saturday, winger Shane Williams and fly-half Stephen Jones accounting for all their team's points.

"We have had a few minor problems but we had to overcame them," was Henry's only reference to the affair.

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"I am very proud of the way the guys played the game," he added.

"Our tackling was outstanding and so was our defence. That shows you the courage of the side.

"The guys were very professional in the week and very focused."

For Scotland it was another patchy performance although they did cross the line for second-half tries from flanker Martin Leslie and Gregor Townsend.

Coach Ian McGeechan admitted that his side's failure to turn possession into points was the decisive factor.

"We got back in the game with a try to make it 16-13, then conceded a penalty straight from the kick-off," said McGeechan.

The decision making wasn't quite right in key areas and we should have made a lot more of the chances we created

Scotland coach Ian McGeechan
"It immediately gives away almost half the points we have just scored and that is crucial.

"When you have just scored, you need to get hold of the ball and get back up to the other end of the field.

"Sometimes the decision making wasn't quite right in key areas and we should have made a lot more of the chances we created."

Townsend scored a try but both he and skipper John Leslie appear weighed down by expectation.

"I dropped the ball under their posts and we ended up going back 60 metres," said Leslie.

"I hold my hands up to that because it is not good enough.

"We made mistakes and we have to do better than that. Wales did well, scored some good tries and kicked their goals.

"In the end, they turned their pressure into points and at international level that is not easy."

Unless Scotland can now somehow beat Grand Slam-chasing England at Murrayfield in the final game on April 2, they will slump to a championship whitewash only a year after winning the title.

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See also:

13 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Howarth axed in foreigner purge
13 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Rugby's guns for hire
18 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Williams double rocks Scots
15 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Scots to defend 'grandparent rule'