Scotland v Wales: Finn Russell pulls the strings as hosts rampage to record win

Gregor Townsend's side make it two from two in this year's Six Nations

Scotland players celebrate Blair Kinghorn's bonus-point securing try versus Wales. Image: © Craig Watson -
Scotland players celebrate Blair Kinghorn's bonus-point securing try versus Wales. Image: © Craig Watson -

Scotland 35

Wales 7

DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield

A DAY when two significant records tumbled. It is the first time Scotland have managed to win their opening two games of a Six Nations campaign, and this is their biggest ever winning margin against Wales (beating the 35-10 scoreline which was achieved at Inverleith back in 1924).

This result leaves Gregor Townsend‘s side second in the Six Nations table behind Ireland on points differential (+37 versus +34), which will give the team confidence ahead of their next outing away to France in a fortnight’s time.

Stand-off Finn Russell was named man-of-the-match for his mesmerising second-half performance, when he seemed to have the ball attached to a string as he tormented Wales with a stunning array of cross-field kicks and cheeky offloads. He was surrounded by willing and capable accomplices, and that likeminded firepower across the dark blue backline will be a handful for any team they face in this championship, if they can continue to toe the line between free-wheeling attack at the right moments and playing the percentages when required.

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Scotland were clinical when they got within striking distance, while Wales squandered a number of gilt-edged opportunities. Discipline was also an issue for the visitors with 17 penalties conceded across the 80 minutes.

The game burst into life in the sixth minute when a powerful line-out drive clicked Scotland into gear and Sione Tuipulotu‘s offload released Huw Jones in midfield. Duhan van der Merwe didn’t manage to stay connected so the scoring pass wasn’t on, but a quick recycle allowed Russell to send an inch-perfect cross-kick to the right, which Kyle Steyn volleyball tapped back in field to Jamie Ritchie. The attack petered out against some heroic Welsh scramble defence, but an offside penalty allowed Russell to open the scoring with a straight forward kick from in front of the posts.

Scotland kept their foot on the gas with Pierre Schoeman ripping the ball from Welsh arms like taking sweets from a baby, allowing Ben White to attack on the left, and the hosts extended their lead with a second Russell penalty awarded against Daffyd Jenkins for not rolling away from a tackle.

Wales had several opportunities to narrow the gap. When Russell got caught in possession tidying up a loose-ball, they kicked the penalty to the corner but lost the line-out. When van der Merwe carried the ball back over his own line to hand the visitors a scrum-five, Joe Hawkins inexplicably strayed offside as a decoy runner. And when they won a scrum penalty 40 yards out and slap-bang in the middle of the park, Dan Biggar pulled his shot to the right of the posts.

An excellent turnover by skipper Ritchie on his own line finally punctured that head of steam Wales had been building, and it took a desperate double-tackle from Rio Dyer and Josh Adams to squeeze Steyn out just short of the line on the right. Play was brought back for an earlier penalty, which was kicked to the corner for a line-out maul, from which George Turner powered over for the game’s opening try.

Hero turned to villain just a few seconds later when Turner saw yellow for shoulder-to-head contact on George North, and Wales made the most of the extra man, heading to the corner and rumbling over the line, with Ken Owens providing the final touch. Biggar converted.

Wales passed up another golden opportunity on the stroke of half-time when Dyer failed to gather Biggar’s through-the-legs pass with the line at his mercy.


After a few wobbles early in the second half, Scotland managed to close down the game to avoid any further loss of points before returning to full-strength, and not long after Turner’s reappearance, a fine Russell grubber gave the home team an excellent attacking platform but Zander Fagerson lost possession diving for the line.

Then quick hands gave van der Merwe his first chance to stretch his legs in attack, making 30-yards up the left touchline, before the dam finally burst when Russell slipped through two tacklers and flicked a back-handed pass to send Steyn over.

And the Glasgow Warriors winger got his second a few minutes later straight after Liam Williams was sent to the sin-bin for going off his feet at a ruck near his own line, with Russell’s cross-field kick serving up the try on a plate.

There was a period of soaking up Welsh pressure as the men in red desperately tried to find a way back into the game, but once that had been taken care of, Scotland claimed the bonus-point from a slick line-out move, leading Russell directing another cross-field kick with razor-sharp accuracy to van der Merwe, who made ground before feeding back inside for Blair Kinghorn to score.

The home team were in complete control and the fifth try eventually arrived when a classic delayed pass from Russell sent Matt Fagerson home.


Teams –

Scotland: S Hogg (B Kinghorn 13); K Steyn, H Jones, S Tuipulotu (C Harris 72), D van der Merwe; F Russell, B White (G Horne 59); P Schoeman (J Bhatti, 64), G Turner (F Brown 59), Z Fagerson (W Nel 64), R Gray, G Gilchrist (J Gray 64), J Ritchie, L Crosbie (F Brown 36-42, Dempsey 44), M Fagerson.

Wales: L Williams; J Adams (A Cuthbert  59), G North (A Cuthbert 33-40), J Hawkins, R Dyer; D Biggar (R Patchell 57), T Williams (R Webb 57); W Jones (R Carre 52), K Owens (S Baldwin 64), D Lewis (L Brown 64), D Jenkins (R Davies 66), A Beard, C Tshiunza, T Reffell, J Morgan (T Faletau, 52).

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)


Scorers –

Scotland: Try: Turner, Steyn 2, Kinghorn, Fagerson; Con: Russell 2; Pen: Russell 2

Wales: Tries: Cons: Biggar.

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 3-0; 6-0; 11-0; 13-0; 13-5; 13-7 (h-t) 18-7; 20-7; 25-7; 30-7; 35-7.


Yellow cards –

Scotland: Turner (32mins)

Wales: Williams (57mins), Webb (82mins)

U20s 6N: success at last as Scotland topple Wales

About David Barnes 4028 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Murrayfield was buzzing. So was I for several hours afterwards. Magnificent performance. Impossible to single any one player out (Finn apart). All outstanding from 1 to 23. Tough challenge in Paris coming up. If we have a right go at them with ball in hand and kick well, put the ball behind them and make them turn. Play the game in their half, the crowd might turn on them. From that point on it’s anyone’s game. Come on lads.

  2. Re the Turner yellow . I think the rule makers need to think this through . If a player gets down on one knee dips his body and presents shoulder to tackler – how the heck can he tackle any lower it would have to be a slide along the ground ! In fairness to ref he said card was for swinging arm . If he had not put his arm out to make the tackle it would have been shoulder charge no arms tackle – nuts ! There has to be a clear rule if player being tackled dips to make a safe tackle difficult or impossible then it’s a fair tackle

    • Just watched video analysis on utube ( watch it) of Ireland France – one sided but astonishing none the less . OMG must have been over 20 high tackles with shoulder to head contact by Ireland ( attempting smother tackle I suspect) almost every time Irish player was vertical – only difference was the French player took tackle and did not flop over ( like Sexton did against Wales. ) . But even more interesting was something I have thought Ireland and Leinster have been doing for years sealing of at ruck . In fairness they are quick to breakdown but first 1/2 player make no attempt to play ball they dip down from hip rest body or arms beyond ball and make fair contest impossible . This is particularly evident close to opposition line they attack in 2/ 3pod the role of support players is to stop turnovers by sealing off if don’t break line . Hence they can batter away with out risk of loss . Got to hand it them the tactics work with most refs . Mind you Wayne Barnes enough said !

      • Me again just read article by Nigel Owens on this exact point refs not enforcing sealing off rule . Hence defences don’t bother competing and spread out making game less open . Could not agree more . As he says no rule change is needed it just needs enforcing

  3. Another excellent ‘Team’ performance even if it was a bit shaky in the first twenty minutes or so. Up next, France in Paris, what to make of that, will they put on a Bravura display following a defeat in Ireland, who knows but for sure we can’t give them a start with a ‘sloppy’ first 20 minutes.
    With that in mind why not start with Nel who is less likely to offer up scrum penalties perhaps, and take the benefit of Fagerson’s work around the pitch at a time when it will have possibly a better impact.
    It will be hard for any of the backs to make way for Darcy Graham but in any event having been injured would he be better coming on off the bench [presuming he is available] at the same time as Horne: is that an option or would a quick start and double points on the board be a better ploy against the French, it doesn’t take long for the Parisian crowd to start giving their players the Bird.
    Well that’s a problem for GT and I’m sure he will be looking for an improvement in some areas but its difficult to know where, apart from one of our old failings KO reception and restarts and no early penalties hence my thoughts of Nel starting with ZF off the bench.

  4. I suppose I’m stating the obvious here, but we won yesterday because (belatedly) we were able to force our game on the Welsh, to make them play the match the way we wanted it played.

    The fear in the first half, was that we were once again being dragged into the dark hole which was the dogfight that they so badly wanted.

    It does seem to me that we have that hold over the English. That no matter what they do, they end up playing our game. Happy days.

    So on to Paris. And despite their obvious talents, I see light. France are the kind of team that Scotland love playing…..they generally want a game of rugby to be a game of rugby, and there’s every chance that we’ll see the periods of open rugby that Scotland have proven that we can ruthlessly exploit.

    Keep the defence tight, keep the discipline good (Zander, I’m looking at you) and keep on playing intelligent rugby. And Finn can reign supreme in Paris.

  5. A statement win by Scotland against our undoubted bogey team. Ireland have had the beating of us aswell in recent times but they are a better side than Wales, the agonising and self inflicted to a Wales team who are no better than us had to stop. Not only did it stop, thank god, but it was ruthlessly turned around into a complete thrashing for the Welsh. This was like therapy! That victory and the nature of it was long long overdue against our Welsh friends. I was worried at half-time as thought Wales were doing exactly what Wales do, turning it into a scrappy dogged dogfight. Thankfully we steadied ourselves at half-time and came out and simply blew them away in the second half.

    I thought Schoeman, Turner, big Richie, Fagerson (outstanding yet again), Jones, Steyn all played very well indeed. Finn Russell was outstanding in the second period, an absolute joy to watch and just unplayable. To quote Simon Zebo who played alongside Finn at Racing- ”he is just pure chocolate isnt he….”
    On to France away next!

  6. Those folk calling for Toonie’s heid are a bit quieter nowadays. What’s he done wrong lately?

    Good to see Scotland press on as the favourites and just get the job done.

    Seems to be that good the folk of the hard political flavour are reciting Rabbie Burns and such. Scotland doing so well they’ve resurrected Scots who thought Scotland was deid. :-))

    All the best to the players, coaches, supporters making this one to never forget.

    • Not much wrong at all, and good on him. In particular he’s picking Russell, a balanced midfield (as well as the revelation that is Tui welcome back Huw Jones and not before time!), he’s called back RG, 6’10 lock to fix the lineout (and gained so much more), chosen a leader, in the right position, as captain, he’s realised you need to switch in and out the whole front row and start from a scrummaging tighthead, twice now we’ve regrouped at half time, and then he’s made good replacements at the right times, put that all together and suddenly things are clicking all over the park in defence and attack: a large part of boils down to giving Finn options. Moreover he is carrying a more confident and calm atmosphere himself (could even hear this in his pre tournament appearance on Rugby Pod, through to pre match conferences and post match interviews. As someone who has been previously heavily critical and really had lost all patience (despite having always loved him as a sublime player and lauded him at Glasgow in 2015 – it was just such a shame to see him making odd calls and consistently put out a changing unbalanced side that gave us little chance and ruined some of the best players) to now recognise when he is getting each decision bang on! Well done all round – it’s a tough year from here on out but Scotland finally imposing its game on those difficult situations at the key times, and the team has a head of steam. One game at a time from here, Paris and home game for Finn, tilt at the Triple Crown and really a shot to nothing in the World Cup.

    • Grow up will you. It was the same p**h last week about the Townsend haters. Enjoy the win. Hopefully Gregor can maintain the selections and tactics in a sensible trajectory with no abrupt downward spirals and keep a happy squad with no internal revolts.All looking good at the moment.

      • You’re totally right and the same if we lose a couple of games as well. We have been so lucky over the last 7/8 years to witness some brilliant rugby ( not always winning). 🐻

  7. Well played.They will need everything they have to beat the French.Are forward passes,going intob to a ruck from the side,going off your feet at ruck now allowed? Refs had their moments in both games today.Well taken Irish “try”. Can’t understand why the ref didn’t look at the view from behind. Have a good two weeks rest lads. You deserve it!

  8. Well that was a game of two halfs.

    I was deeply worried at half time and thought we were fortunate to be ahead. We were conceding so much possession and territory by some poor kicking and a myriad of mistakes that handed the ball back to Wales too often. Thankfully they didn’t have the skill do take advantage..

    The second half was like a different team. The mistakes were cut out, penalties largely cut out, we kept possession and the ball moved at pace and Finn was able to work his magic. By the end we were running Wales ragged and Murrayfield was loving it.

    And the good thing is that this was nowhere near perfect and so there is still a lot of areas for improvement which are mainly about more accuracy and cutting out the mistakes – I think we will need some of that to beat France and particularly Ireland who are close to flawless on occasions.

  9. Wow – did I ever enjoy that … second half in particular. I can’t remember when I last saw a Scotland side accelerate away like that …

    Could we beat France next … ?????

  10. Fantastic stuff from Scotland today, things are coming together very nicely. Finn Russel was world class in the second half and Richie Gray rolled back the years today with a masterclass performance.

    Having watched France today, I believe a win for Scotland in Paris is very much achievable.

  11. What a miserable ungallant bitter pair Johnathon Davis and Martin Johnson were after the win in the studio. Cheers Lads!!

    • Johnathon Davies has always been one eyed when it comes to Wales. His comment on the shoulder barge on Steyn was ” he (Welsh defender) tried to wrap his arm “, no he didn’t and on Turners tackle on North he said ” Turner didn’t attempt to wrap his arm in the tackle “, he did. Double standards. John Barclay gave him the eye’s

  12. Finntastic second half. We have a good shape in attack. Wonder how long it will take for other teams to find a counter to the “Boot” that we have with Tuipuluto or Russell at first receiver with Jones and usually one of the back row or back three in there. Once it gets going both England and Wales seemed clueless as to where the attack is going and how to defend it and the passing skills and vision are right up there. Brilliant to watch.
    Having said that the big plaudits should go to the defence. The tackle completion rate is excellent and this combination of defence and attack really suits us.

    • I think that my big concern is how well that attacking shape is going to hold when faced with the serious blitz defence that France, Ireland and (in the RWC) South Africa will bring. I don’t think the defences we have faced so far have put real sustained pressure on 10,12,13 and it is whether they can cope when it comes over the next couple of games.

  13. Have to admit was a bit worried in that second 20 minute spell before half time, with the yellow card. Second half no real worries and a much better performance from Scotland. Turner , R Gray , M Fagerson really good games. Not sure if Crosbie is our best option. Finn best 2nd half for a long time, the 12/13 axis both excellent , who says Jones cannot defend. Wings both excellent Steyn and VDM just the mention of him created panic in the Welsh defense. Finally maybe Kinghorn’s time has come at 15. Maybe Horne and Kinghorn should start in Paris, but generally leave a winning team alone Gregor. Final thought do we bring back Graham and is it staring or off the bench.

    • Yes, Kinghorn for Hogg, but happy with Ben White at SH as Horne better at coming off bench as defences tire. Dempsey for Crosbie.Steyn deserves his place. D’Arcy Graham will have to earn his place back.

    • I ve a slightly different view about Hogg and Kinghorn. I think the main part of his game that we need Hogg for these days is his kicking game. I think us losing control in the second 20 minutes was about not having a big boot at the back as it was the yellow card. We changed the kicking tactics at half time and the game turned with it.

      Kinghorn had a great game but I don’t mind him off the bench, fresh for the last 30 when our attack moves up through the gears.

  14. George Horne needs to start v France

    Skinner and R Gray

    Darcy would have scored in the 1st half

    Harris’ time is over. He was quality but bring in Cam

  15. The cold reality comes from admitting we had a very ropey twenty min spell (like we always do against Wales) but if England were poor Wales were much much worse. Crazy to bring back Garland, but from our perspective letting Finn have quality centres to work with has transformed our backline. I’d suggest that not only is our attack better without Harris so is the defence. Delighted to see Kinghorn and Finn enjoying their rugby. Still need to cut out errors and step up again to have a sniff about in next two games (Horne n Kinghorn to start please) but just great to see us punish a sideike that especially since the u20s have shaken King Kong off their back.

    • Not sure where you get the “ if England were poor” bit. What made last week outstanding was we beat a good England team. We didn’t play as well today, didn’t have too but for a coaches perspective that was good as it gives them lots to work on.

      • Behave England were terrible. They’ll be smashed by Ireland n France if they carry on like they are. Jones n Borthwick are utterly conservative n don’t know how to use Smith. He should have Randall n Slade with him. They should have gone after Pat Liam. Sinfield is a top human by anyone’s standard but as Finn read him like a book as a defence coach. We didn’t have to get above 7/10 to beat either Wales or England…to compete with Ireland France we will have to be 9.5/10

      • Agree.
        England have a million players.
        On an individual basis they are never poor.
        Their team is stacked with Lions. They have Lions who didn’t make the starting lineup.
        Doing them 3× in a row at Twickenham (I count the draw in 2019 as a moral victory!) is something very few teams do and certainly no Scotland previous Scotland team.

  16. If Adam Hastings hadn’t got injured in November, would Finn have been starting today?

    That there’s any doubt should have seen Townsend shipped off to an asylum.

    We need to savour every minute we have of this boy – we’ll never see his like again.

      • Don’t need a beer to love Finn.

        In reference to Huw Jones (Dogma) it’s fair to say the defensive shift seen from him today wasn’t there a few years ago when Harris was drafted in.

        He had a beast of a game today.

      • I have often wondered what Toonie was up to but he has always proved me wrong.
        I’ve learned to shrug when I see something I think is inconsistent or that I can’t understand and tell myself that ‘in Toonie we trust’.
        You can talk about a golden generation of players, but other sides in this championship choose their teams from hundreds or even thousands of professional players.
        I think Toonie has the best win ratio of any Scotland coach, certainly in the professional era.
        He and his team deserve a bit of silverware to show for it.

        Let’s hope they get it.
        I have a feeling they might.

  17. Always helps to keep your feet on the ground with a really dodgy first half and dodging what could have been a match ending red card – but…… what a way to get rid of a hoodoo, firmly put to bed!

    Can go to Paris in two weeks and give it our best, France still not firing on all cylinders so you never know?

    • Talking about the yellow … how come Owens gets away with a clear head shot on Turner on about 55mins . clear shoulder to chin …..

      • And the tip tackle on Duhan…..
        Oh and the should to Steyn on the try line……

        Same old for Scotland V Wales I suppose.

      • Yup, thought Adams shoulder on Steyn (no real intent to wrap Mr Davies!) was at least a penalty as well… but the team including coaches found a way to impose their game and get out that arm wrestle, which is all Wales could really offer on the day. Difficult times for Wales and they must be starting to dreading Italy – we know too well how they feel!

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