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Scotland 13-26 Wales

Scotland (3) 13
Try: Evans Con: Paterson Pens: Paterson 2

Wales (16) 26
Tries: Shanklin, AW Jones, Halfpenny, Williams Pens: S Jones 2

By David Dulin


Highlights - Scotland 13-26 Wales

Six Nations champions Wales began the defence of their crown by comfortably beating Scotland at Murrayfield.

Wales claimed two of their four tries via Tom Shanklin and Alun Wyn Jones in a devastating eight-minute first-half spell with Scotland reduced to 14 men.

Prop Geoff Cross, who injured himself taking out Lee Byrne in the air, was yellow-carded and then stretchered off.

Leigh Halfpenny and Shane Williams added further Welsh scores before a Max Evans try sparked a late home rally.

Despite taking their foot off the gas in the final quarter, the champions will head back to Cardiff in good shape for the visit of England next Saturday, while Scotland travel to Paris to face France.

Wales overcame the huge blow of losing captain Ryan Jones in the run-up to the game after he failed a fitness test on a calf strain, Dafydd Jones starting the game on the blind-side flank.

Scotland showed the more encouraging signs early on but Warren Gatland's side started to gain confidence and looked dangerous on the attack.

Lee Byrne is challenged in mid-air by Geoff Cross, whose game was ended
Byrne is challenged by Cross, who was sin-binned and stretchered off
They were ahead after 12 minutes when Scotland number eight Simon Taylor held on to the ball and Stephen Jones made the most of a straightforward penalty inside the 22.

Falling behind seemed to spur on the hosts who then cranked up the pressure, but their game was ripped apart by a hammer blow 20 minutes in.

Prop Cross left the pitch on a stretcher after coming out worse from a dangerous challenge on the air-borne Byrne.

He was not allowed to be replaced for 10 minutes as referee Alain Rolland handed out a yellow card for the offence.

Then wing Simon Webster had to go off after failing to recover from an earlier challenge on Wales stand-in captain Martyn Williams.

But Wales were in no mood to offer sympathy and made the most of their one-man advantage by scoring two tries.

A sweeping handling move concluded with Byrne off-loading to Shanklin to claim his 19th try for his country.

Wales then demonstrated the power of their pack when they shoved the seven-man Scottish scrum off their own ball, allowing lock Wyn Jones to barge over from close range.

But with Jones missing both conversions, they had to settle for a 13-0 lead.

Scotland's record points-scorer, Chris Paterson, a surprise omission from the starting XV, made the most impact for Scotland on his arrival for the injured Webster.

First he clawed three points back from a penalty, taking his tally to 696 in Test rugby, and then came within inches of the try-line with a dartinf run as the first half drew to a close.

But Wales were able to soak up the pressure and finish the half with another three points from Jones when Scotland were penalised for handling in the ruck.

It took just 48 seconds after the restart for Wales to extend their 16-3 lead with a third try, sparked by a great Jamie Roberts run through the Scottish defence.

Leigh Halfpenny claims Wales' third try on his Six Nations debut
Leigh Halfpenny claims Wales' third try on his Six Nations debut
The ball was switched to the right and Shane Williams off-loaded in the nick of time to Cardiff Blues wing Halfpenny, who dived over in the corner on his Six Nations debut. Jones once again failed with his kick.

Paterson did reduce the deficit to 21-6 with a penalty after Wales number eight Andy Powell had his hands in a ruck.

But Scotland were not really testing the Welsh defence and a fourth try for the visitors followed just before the hour.

Jones off-loaded to Roberts as play was switched left before the ball eventually arrived in the hands of Shane Williams two metres out.

The diminutive wing promptly dived through a gap to record his 45th Test try, passing ex-All Blacks wing Jeff Wilson on the all-time list.

Martyn Williams was sin-binned with 13 minutes left for deliberately knocking on in a tackle, allowing Scotland to apply some late pressure.

The hosts made the most of it when replacement Evans scooted round Shane Williams, who then went off with a foot injury, and inside Byrne after some good build-up work.

Paterson converted and almost grabbed a second Scottish try two minutes from time when he dived for the ball with Byrne, but the television match official confirmed that he had not applied downward pressure.

Scotland: Southwell, Webster, Cairns, Morrison, Lamont, Godman, Blair, Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, White, J Hamilton, Hogg, Taylor, Barclay.
Replacements: Paterson for Webster (21), Dickinson for Cross (31), M Evans for Cairns (52), Gray for Barclay (56), Cusiter for Blair (62), Hall for Ford (62), Brown for Hogg (73).

Sin-bin: Cross (20)

Wales: Byrne, Halfpenny, Roberts, Shanklin, S Williams, S Jones, Phillips, Jenkins, Rees, A Jones, Gough, AW Jones, R Jones, M Williams, Powell.
Replacements: Peel for Phillips (60), Bishop for Roberts (63), Hook for S Jones (63), Yapp for Jenkins (63), Bennett for Rees (63), Charteris for Gough (63), Davies for S Williams (72).

Sin-bin: M Williams (67)

Att: 63,000

Ref: A Rolland (Ireland).

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see also
Gatland vows Wales will improve
08 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Hadden stunned by sluggish Scots
08 Feb 09 |  Scottish
Bring on England - Roberts
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Scotland v Wales photos
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Scotland v Wales match stats
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Scotland v Wales as it happened
08 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations guide 2009
28 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union

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