Wales cruise to comfortable win
Wales begin defence of Six Nations title with a 26-13 victory over Scotland.
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2009 22:23 GMT

Tom Shanklin of Wales dives over the line to score the first try [GALLO/GETTY]
Wales kicked off their defence of the rugby union Six Nations title with four tries in an emphatic 26-13 win over Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday.

The Welsh built their victory on a huge performance from their forwards who ensured a steady supply of ball for their fast backs with winger Shane Williams scoring his 45th try for his country.

Wales flanker Martyn Williams put his team's dominance down to the backs "getting over the gain line so often".

"The other point was that the scrum was so efficient.

"Overall we got faster ball because we played the game on the front foot," he added.

Wales dominant

Flyhalf Stephen Jones showed he has returned to form with a commanding performance although he failed to convert any of the tries, kicking six points from two penalties.

Scotland scored a late try by replacement back Max Evans with Chris Paterson, on for injured winger Simon Webster, adding the conversion to his two penalties.

Scotland managed to hold the Welsh at bay in the early stages but paid for their efforts with injuries and a numerical disadvantage when new cap Geoff Cross was sin-binned.

Webster appeared to be concussed after a suicidal tackle on Martyn Williams and then Cross suffered a similar fate colliding with Lee Byrne as the Wales fullback rose for a high ball.

Cross was carried off on a stretcher, accompanied by a yellow card for his dangerous challenge on Byrne.

Killer try

Wales moved the ball left from a ruck for Shane Williams and Byrne to combine before Tom Shanklin took the fullback's pass out of the tackle to roar over for the game's first try.

"We were out-muscled in the first half hour, and they were clever in the way they took advantage of our yellow card," said Scotland coach Frank Hadden.

With Scotland still down to 14 men, Wales struck again from a Scottish scrum put-in that squirted out on the Welsh side.

Flyhalf Jones made a dart for the line and when he was stopped the ball was quickly recycled for Mike Phillips to supply Alun Wyn Jones with the scoring pass.

Wales, 16-3 up at half-time, quickly increased their lead after the interval with a try by winger Leigh Halfpenny.

"The killer blow was the score just after the break.

"We failed to take the ball from the kick off and two or three phases later Jamie Roberts made a great run in midfield to set up their try," Hadden said.

Mike Blair releases the ball from the scrum [GALLO/GETTY]
Strong attack

A second penalty by Paterson reduced the Scots' deficit but it was only a temporary respite as Wales launched a series of attacks that ended with Shane Williams diving in at the corner for his side's fourth try.

With Martyn Williams, whom Scotland captain Mike Blair called "a very destructive number seven" in the sin-bin for deliberate knock-on, the home side produced a wonderful try by Evans, who evaded four tackles on a weaving run to the line.

Scotland looked to have scored again when Paterson followed up his own chip ahead, but he was adjudged to have knocked on over the line.

Next weekend, Wales are at home to England, who crushed Italy 36-11 on Saturday.

They have injury worries, notably Shane Williams, Gavin Henson, who did not travel to Edinburgh, and Ryan Jones, who withdrew from the game an hour before kickoff and are not expected to name their team until Thursday.

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