Scotland 18-28 Wales, Six Nations
Halfpenny puts the boot into Scotland
March 9, 2013
Date/Time: Mar 9, 2013, 14:30 local, 14:30 GMT
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Scotland 18 - 28 Wales
Attendance: 67144  Half-time: 12 - 13
Pens: Laidlaw 6
Tries: Hibbard
Cons: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 7
Wales' Richard Hibbard goes over for their first try, Scotland v Wales, Six Nations, Murrayfield, Scotland, March 9, 2013
Richard Hibbard goes over for Wales' sole try
© Getty Images

Wales kept their Six Nations hopes alive with a 28-18 win over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Graham Jenkins

  • Man of the Match: The Wales pack laid the foundation for this victory with flanker Sam Warburton issuing a reminder of his class with a powerful display on his return to the side. His showing will not have escaped British & Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland who was watching in the stands.
  • Key Moment: With the game in the balance midway through the second half, Wales replacement Justin Tipuric joined forces with back-row colleague Sam Warburton to not only stop Scotland lock Jim Hamilton in his tracks but also rob him of the ball. The result was a Leigh Halfpenny penalty that extended the visitors' lead to seven points - the equivalent of a converted try Scotland never looked like getting.
  • Hero of the Game: Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny missed two first half kicks at goal and struck the post with another but showed his class by recovering his composure to claim a 23 points haul and keep his side's Six Nations title hopes alive.
  • Villain of the Game: Momentum is so important in top level sport and Scotland gave it away just before the break. With his side holding a narrow 12-10 lead with only a few seconds left in the half, lock Jim Hamilton waded into the side of a ruck to gift Wales an easy penalty and the initiative. Leigh Halfpenny made no mistake and his side never looked back.
  • Talking Point: Referee Craig Joubert had many puzzled with some of his decisions and a total of 28 penalties did little to improve the game as a spectacle. It is amazing that he managed to keep his yellow card in his pocket until the closing moments of the game but is he totally to blame for a largely dire contest? Or should the players shoulder some of the blame for not heeding his warnings?
  • Play of the Game: The game was woefully short of highlights but Scotland fly-half Duncan Weir briefly had the home crowd on their feet in the first half with a neat chip and chase. He then hacked the ball on before tackling his opposite number over try line to earn his side a 5m scrum.

A sixth successive victory in the fixture saw Wales move level on points at the table's summit with unbeaten, Grand Slam-chasing England, who host struggling Italy tomorrow. But Wales could not make any significant dent in England's sizeable points difference advantage, scoring a try by hooker Richard Hibbard, while full-back Leigh Halfpenny booted the conversion and seven penalties for a 23-point haul.

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw replied with six penalties from eight attempts for Scotland, but it was another try-less experience from the home side's perspective after Laidlaw's boot saw them home against Ireland two weeks ago. The title remains England's to lose. They have a nine points better difference than Wales, with Italy to come, although next Saturday's Millennium Stadium showdown will provide a fitting, nerve-tingling tournament finale.

Wales have now won five successive championship away games - a record for them - and Scotland went the same way as France and Italy against them in recent weeks by failing to score a try. The visitors even kept Scotland out after prop Paul James was sin-binned two minutes from time, and they richly deserved their victory.

There were two worrying signs for British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland, though, as Scotland lock Richie Gray and Wales captain Ryan Jones both went off with appeared to be tournament-ending hamstring and wrist injuries, respectively.

Wales made an immediate statement of intent, twice gaining scrum free-kicks before South African referee Craig Joubert awarded them a penalty when Scotland infringed again and Halfpenny booted Wales 3-0 ahead after four minutes. But the lead lasted just two minutes as Laidlaw found his range with a 40-metre penalty, and then a long-range touchfinder by centre Matt Scott pinned Wales inside their own 22 for the first time.

Both teams looked to keep possession alive, although clear try-scoring chances were at a premium, and Halfpenny missed a penalty chance that would have tied things up approaching the end of fast and furious opening quarter. Wales then scored the game's opening try after 23 minutes when Hibbard crossed wide out following forward pressure close to Scotland's line.

Halfpenny, who had uncharacteristically missed three successive penalty attempts, slotted the wide-angled conversion, but Scotland replied when Laidlaw completed his penalty hat-trick. There was a major blow for the Scots eight minutes before half-time, though, as Gray was carried off, and was replaced by the experienced Al Kellock. Gray's departure was received with sympathetic applause from a capacity crowd, and Scotland recovered to end the half in attacking mode before Wales gained another scrum penalty.

But Laidlaw's fourth successful penalty nudged Scotland ahead by two points, only for the home side to infringe again and a Halfpenny strike gave the visitors a 13-12 interval advantage. Laidlaw's fifth shot at goal two minutes into the second period produced his first miss after the ball dropped well short, and Wales cleared before moving well inside Scotland's half.

A sharp break by Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips kept the pressure on Scotland and Halfpenny kicked another penalty to open up a four-point gap as visiting skipper Jones received treatment for an injury. And Jones' afternoon ended just a minute later when he departed clutching his left wrist. Justin Tipuric replaced him, with Warburton taking on blindside duties and skippering the side.

Laidlaw's fifth successful penalty again narrowed the deficit to a point, and with Jones off, Wales needed to regroup in what was a nip-and-tuck encounter. Scotland, though, continued to experience acute problems with referee Joubert's scrummaging interpretation, and when they conceded yet another penalty Halfpenny stepped up give Wales a 19-15 advantage after 56 minutes.

Halfpenny and Laidlaw continued their shoot-out, each landing further three pointers as Wales led 22-18 entering the final quarter. Another Halfpenny penalty took Wales seven points clear - he recovered brilliantly from his early misses - before his seventh successful strike put daylight between the teams.

Scotland rallied to stage a strong finish, but Wales kept them out despite losing James to the sin-bin, and hopes of achieving Six Nations silverware for a second straight season cannot be discounted.

© Getty Images
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