Wales v Scotland: heartbreak in Cardiff again

Long losing streak inn Cardiff, which stretches back to 2002, will run for at least another two years

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg is tackled by Tomas Francis of Wales. Image: © Craig Watson -
Scotland captain Stuart Hogg is tackled by Tomas Francis of Wales. Image: © Craig Watson -

Wales 20

Scotland 17

DAVID BARNES @ Principality Stadium

A SLIGHTLY different script but the same depressing plot-line as Scotland contributed heartily to a high-drama production in Cardiff but once again ended up the hapless antiheroes with only a losing bonus-point to show for all their endeavour. Meanwhile, Wales ride off into the sunset with renewed hope for this Six Nations campaign, which started badly with that heavy defeat in Dublin last week but now offers all sorts of exciting opportunities.

Let’s not go down the ‘if only’ route. Had Finn Russell not stuck out a hand to deliberately knock-on as Wales bombarded the Scottish line with just over 10 minutes to go then things may indeed have panned out very differently. But that did happen. It was a yellow-card. And Dan Biggar showed all the composure you get from 100 Test caps worth of experience to nail the drop-goal which decided the match.

In any 80 minutes of rugby, a myriad of marginal incidents fall one way or another, and the key to success is getting into the position where more of these siding-door moments go your team’s way, and Scotland did not achieve that here.

U20s 6N: frustration as young Scots suffer second defeat of campaign

Leinster v Edinburgh: defeat in Dublin drops Mike Blair’s side to fourth in URC

Glasgow v Munster: Warriors edge bruising battle to close in on summit

Scotland started positively, with Matt Fagerson brushing off Taine Basham in the first minute to take play into the Welsh 22, but Darcy Graham was stripped in contact and Owen Watkin led the break-out, supported byBiggar and Tomos Williams, and Stuart Hogg was lucky not to be sanctioned for a deliberate knock-on.

WP Nel was penalised for collapsing at the resulting scrum and Biggar nudged Wales into a nerve-settling 3-0 lead, thenRussell compounded Scotland’s frustration by kicking the restart out on the full, and the hosts were right back on the offensive to claim another three points through a not-rolling-away penalty. The game was not yet eight minutes old.

A wonderful flat pass from Ali Price which sent Duhan van de Merwe scuttling up the left touchline ignited the Scottish fight-back, and the move was finished on the opposite side of the park 17 phases later when a classic Russell miss-two gave Darcy Graham the chink of space he needed to scramble past Louis Rees-Zammitt and dot down in the corner.

Russell missed the tricky conversion but nailed a penalty from in front of the posts a few minutes later when Welsh debutant Jac Morgan were penalised for chasing from in front of the kicker, and the Scotland quickly repeated the trick when Wales were penalised for coming in at the side to slow a line-out maul.

That was a good 10-minute spell for Scotland but the fire which was being snorted out of Welsh nostrils at kick-off hadn’t been extinguished as the rain swept down through the open roof at the Principality Stadium, and the hosts struck next when a fearsome period of pressure yielded a penalty against Grant Gilchrist for falling on the wrong side of a tackler, and Biggar kicked the easy points.

But that score was almost immediately cancelled out by Russell after a Hamish Watson jackal earned a holding-on penalty for Scotland against Basham, who had been trying to run a sloppy line-out overthrow away from Wales’ danger zone.

A brilliant 50-22 from Liam Williams swung momentum of this pendulous game back towards Wales and Scotland were penalised again for lying on the wrong side – it was Sam Skinner this time – prompting a team warning from referee Nic Berry. Biggar kicked to the corner and the red juggernaut rolled into gar for a Tomas Francis try, which squared the match with just over half an hour played – and that is the way it stayed until half-time.

Scotland lost Matt Fagerson to a leg injury in 31 minutes, and Magnus Bradbury made a quick impact off the bench with a couple of thunderous carries.


Enjoyed this article? Quality journalism like ours is made possible by readers like you. If you value our in-depth coverage of Scottish rugby at all levels and want to see more, please consider supporting us with a subscription or donation. It helps us keep delivering the news you love. Thank you for being a part of The Offside Line community!


Scotland struck first after the break when another long passage of play, bristling with intent and featuring powerful surges from Sione Tuipulotu and Graham, eventually yielded a not-rolling away penalty for Russell to kick from in front of the posts.

There was a comedy interlude when Russell attempted a 50-yard drop-goal attempt, which at least managed to make it into the Welsh 22, before Biggar squared it again when George Turner– one third of Scotland’s front-row bomb-squad which had been deployed off the bench on 44 minutes – was penalised for offside.

The 62nd minute brought Rory Darge his long-awaited international debut off the bench in place of Jonny Gray, but it wasn’t the glorious experience he will have spent years dreaming of.

When Turner conceded another penalty, this time for playing the ball while off his feet, Biggar’ long-range penalty rebounded back off the bar, and Alex Cuthbert was first on the scene to scoop up the loose ball. Chris Harris managed to snuff out the immediate threat, but Wales kept their foot on the throttle and the TMO was required to rule that Cuthbert’s foot had strayed into touch as he dived for glory in the corner a few phases later.

The try was chalked off, but Russell was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on earlier on the move and Wales ran the penalty, which created the platform for Biggar to kick the drop-goal which edged his team back into the lead with 10 minutes to go.

Scotland huffed and puffed right to the end, and they managed to pierce Wales’ red line defence near halfway on a couple of occasions, but they couldn’t break right through, and you’d have thought the home side had won another Grand Slam when the final whistle sounded.

Teams –

Wales: L Williams; A Cuthbert, O Watkin, N Tompkins (J Davies 67), L Rees-Zammit; D Biggar (C Sheedy, 78), T Williams; W Jones (G Thomas 64), R Elias (D Lake 64), T Francis (D Lewis 59), W Rowlands (S Davies 75), A Beard, T Basham, J Morgan, R Moriarty (A Wainwright 57).

Scotland: S Hogg; D Graham, C Harris, S Tuipulotu (B Kinghorn 70), D van der Merwe (C Redpath 78); F Russell, A Price (B White 62); P Schoeman (R Sutherland 44-62), S McInally (G Turner 44), W Nel (Z Fagerson 44), J Gray (R Darge 62), G Gilchrist, S Skinner, H Watson, M Fagerson (M Bradbury 31).

Referee: Nic Berry


Scorers –

Wales: Try: Francis; Pens: Biggar 4; DG: Biggar.

Scotland: Tries: Graham; Pen: Russell 4.

Scoring sequence (Wales first): 3-0; 6-0; 6-5; 6-8; 6-11; 9-11;  9-14; 14-14 (h-t) 14-17; 17-17; 20-17.


Yellow cards –

Scotland: Russell (67 mins)

U20s 6N: frustration as young Scots suffer second defeat of campaign

About David Barnes 3817 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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. James, I think your point is a good one, couple of days on, disappointment wearing off, time to calm down.

    i do feel sorry for the guys, they must feel it a lot worse than us, and that was pretty much our best team out there, they didn’t deliberately mess up.

    It’s not like we can swap many guys out. We just need to stay behind them and take the good results … oh dear France next …:)

  2. Not really concerned how Wales played( we know in Cardiff they will be hard to beat),or referee performed,we can do very little about that, far more concerned by the way our top professional players make schoolboy,unforced errors, far too often .no leader to pull everyone together when things not going to plan ( if there is one).Not easy for Hogg to do that from Full Back, do we have a pack leader?,maybe I am missing something but regularly see Irish forwards in a huddle during injury stoppages obviously reinforcing game plan etc.,don’t seem to be aware of it so much with Scotland.

  3. Scotland were far from brilliant in beating England are far from useless in losing yesterday.

    A sense of perspective is needed by many here.

  4. When was the last time Wales lost a 6N game in Cardiff? France 2020 I think. We beat them in Llanelli.
    And before that?
    Probably England some time around 2017.
    It’s not something that happens very often and talking about a poor Welsh team is disrespectful.
    Most of them are brought up playing in the Valleys goldfish bowl, they are current champions and have a huge championship pedigree.
    We in contrast haven’t won a championship.

    They’re not just going to roll over no matter how ‘ordinary’ their lineup may appear on paper.

    Rather than the disrespectful talk about how bad and underpar we must have been to lose to them perhaps we should look at the grit and the determination that means they consistently beat better resourced, more fancied sides?

  5. For me, Townsend seemingly does not trust the defence sans Harris. Harris has had his shear-darg, time in the saddle, however you want to put it, and done well. However, it is becoming more and more apparent the attack clunks with him at outside centre – his distribution, pace and speed off the mark are deficient for Six Nations-level rugby. When your outside centre poses negligible threat in attack, the team becomes dependent – overdependent – on the Stand-off and back three creating breaks; hence Hogg overdoing it and sometimes DVDM. Defence is a system and should not be over-reliant on one player, and, from what I have witnessed, it is sorted anyway. I get Harris is instrumental in organising the defence and is furthermore strong in the tackle but so is Tuipolotu, likewise Redpath.
    In the forwards, second-row continues to be a glaring weakness. Gray has fantastic work-rate but little dog: he gets players down in the tackle but Martin Johnson’s observation cited by somebody previously was spot on. ZF gets a sometimes OTT hard time on here: he’s definitely gone backwards since the Lions, particularly in scrummaging, but looks as though he needs a coaching arm around him tbh.

  6. I and many of you had high hopes for this generation of Scottish players. Perhaps its the old Scottish fatalism at play, or maybe it’s egos thinking they done their job last week.

    Professional rugby players should be playing with a clean slate every week. It seems Scotland can’t win a game without a chip on their shoulder the next.

    Personally I’m looking at Finn Russell. As great as he is, how half arsed were his decisions today? The performance was close to inexplicable given the talent in Scotland’s squad.

    I’m not that annoyed, it’s this professional playing generation putting down their marker and if this is the pinnacle, you’ll soon be forgotten about.

  7. This unfortunately highlighted all the limitations of this current team and management.Tactically we have gone from playing the fastest rugby to the meanest defence. The problem with that is if Finn has an off day we have zero creativity and whilst we don’t ship many tries our penalty count is brutal which kills all momentum and gifts the opposition territory and points.Our forwards are never going to get more than parity in any game. They are simply not powerful or aggressive enough. We need more creativity in midfield. Townsend could easily have brought on redpath early in the second half and moved Tuipolota outside as the game was degenerating into a kick/midfield slugfest but he didn’t and we created virtually nothing and lost. Far too conservative.

  8. I’ve heard it! We’ve been here so many times.
    Wales were not better but were, as in some other recent encounters we should have won, way more physical. Also can somebody explain what we are trying to do tactically? I e beat England due to 2 superb bits of play but out attack is blunt. Focus is way too much on defence. We can’t simply ask the other team to play at us. Also while we may only have conceded 2 tries we have given away mountains of penalties so the food defence story isn’t as tru as presented. We need to do more when we have the ball. Price needs dropping for a start. I’d as anticipated we lose to France and Ireland and hopefully beat Italy, that’s not progress. Toonie should go if that’s the outcome. We will be told the game was close but that doesn’t cut it, we need to win! We’ve been here too often, and sadly with a number of these players. There is little to no leadership when we need it in these situations and an inability to front up or adapt. Feel like an absolute gut punch. Can’t face watching the remaining games.

    • Russell & Hogg our so called world class players need to step up & deliver not good enough. Harris great defender but offers nothing in attack need more xfacter in midfield. One more thing a hard nut in the second row would be good.

  9. Agree with all comments we cannot control games because we cannot get consistent gain line advantage as we do not have enough individual big ball carriers in forwards – with today’s defences even that is not enough you have to have units with ball carriers clearers ,supporters that combine to gain ground and retain possession phase after phase. Ireland and in particular Leinster have developed this throughout the squad . That means in the red zone they retain control and score last nights game v Edinburgh illustrated this perfectly. So what to do – young Matt Faqerson is developing well pity he went off he is one we can count on going forward blind side flanker for me. Crosby ,Bradbury need to step it up Richie brings a lot but not a big gain line breaker Watson not what he was last season. I can live with Gilchrist who has improved a lot. Jonny Gray is indicative of Scots forwards issue good defender in that he rarely misses tackles but he is to passive in attack and defence and lacks intensity. I like Skinner in second row more to come . Shoe excellent, good choices at hooker I like Brown but getting on and prone to injury . Zander oh Zander he should be pushing on now but he just is not – he can carry well just needs to stay on feet longer and up the intensity without losing the head . Even more worrying is little in way of back up at tight head critical role Nel does a job but that is it . Rory Sutherland seems lost this year not sure move south was right for him gone back the way following injury. It’s not an easy fix for Gregor unless we can find three or four french juggernauts with Scottish grannies 😂

    • Have to agree with pretty much all of this. I’d be tempted to drop Jonny Gray – he’s a great servant, but he’s not a leader of men / hard-nosed lock / inspirational figure etc and we need at least one of those in the 2nd row. I’m a bit gutted that Sutherland and Fagerson have gone backwards a bit this year, as both excellent players – hopefully they’ll come good again. Look at Darcy – struggled last 18 months or so (I’m aware there were some personal reasons for that and wondered that at the time) but now he is back to playing even better than ever. Probably my favourite Scotland player now. It’s just so weird how everyone seems to blow hot and cold from one week to the next – apart from M Fagerson and Darcy, everyone who played really well last week just didn’t this week.

      • I have to agree, I think Cummings is better, not only that, he dropped the ball twice in contact, surely that’s bread an butter.

  10. Such a disappointing outcome. I think most of us would hopefully agree we were a little fortunate to get the win last week but that a step up in performance and possession this week could/should have led to a win. Credit Wales for dogged defence and playing the ruck and offside line well and getting away with it, but Scotland looked pretty rudderless for long portions of the game and showed a lack of attacking ambition. A lot of ruck and close contact errors and high penalty count kept killing any momentum or chance to build sustained pressure.

    For whatever reason most of our Lions seem to be a little bit off their best, and Russell disappointing today. This is a tough competition but this is as close to playing a Welsh 2nd XV as you can get so to come out on the wrong side is a real kick in the teeth.

    Let’s hope for a big response in two weeks time, our turn to have our backs to the wall and facing some criticism. Though the way France are playing, they will be hard to stop.

    • Agree Ian. And I felt Toonie made a big mistake replacing the front row so early in second half. Thought they deserved at least 10 more minutes, especially Schoeman. We never settled after they went off. Usual story of basic errors eroding confidence to the point where they become headless.

      • Yes I thought that was a strange decision too, seemed to reduce the impact of the change and was too early to panic.

        To be fair, Gregor tries stuff, some work, some don’t …

  11. We could have won 2 games or we could have lost 2 games thats how close the sides are. Today we started well and went through the phases but thereafter we failed to control possession and made too many basic mistakes. 2nd half was very poor where it became a kicking fest for large periods. Im afraid we just cant cut down on the basic errors in the tight games when you need to grind out a win. Wales were clearly much better than last week and targeted disrupting our rucks with good effect – there was very little quick ball.

    Regarding the referee I thought he was terrible – no excuse for our defeat but inconsistent with the handling of the ruck. Sometimes he would let the ruck run for a time others not. How the hit on Skinner was not at least a yellow and possibly a red is beyond me. Huge inconsistency between refs on this where many matches that would have been a red but to review it with the TMO and still think it was just a penalty? The offside line is also ignored – often outside backs are miles in front of the back foot. It was even worse in the French game. Why don’t the touch judges call them and take a hard line and the players would adjust.

    Tough game in 2 weeks – will have to have a different game plan because we won’t win in an arm wrestle with the French and their bomb squad is bigger than ours.

    • Gents, may I suggest we are all clutching at straws?
      Please have a hard non-emotional look at the France v Ireland match, those two teams are at a level above, Scotland are tier 2. in comparison, that is not emotional but a rational synopsis of the level those two teams are playing at, in comparison.
      We have some talented players, but do not have the go forward continuous aggression that’s required against the best teams, geez this was Wales and they were poor, but they had that continuous in your face aggression for 80 minutes.

  12. Why when we click onto offside do we find some parichial claptrap about a local game rather than Scotland capitulation in Cardiff- sense of perspective please

    • What does ‘parichial’ mean?

      Are you demanding this website stops reporting on a league we have covered every match for during the last five years, and which has provided the financial basis for everything we have developed on this site, just because you are in a filthy mood about Scotland losing a game?

      It’s dead easy: click on the stories you want to read, don’t click on the stories you don’t want to read.

      Somebody certainly does need to get a sense of perspective.

      • I’m sorry, you are right David.My comment reflected how deeply gutted I was and still am after we lose to a side we should have beaten if we have genuine aspirations. It hence appeared that we had “moved on” with the article, as if the enormity of this defeat was not taking centre stage.I lost it after the match and should not have made such an irrelevant post. I must remember to expect nothing from a Scottish team and may then remain rational but then again maybe the team needs more passion rather than endeavour as that’s what won it for wales.

      • Thanks Iain – and I do feel your pain. I get a bit defensive about our grassroots coverage because I think it is important.

      • well I think this Website is great, thanks for operating it.

        Only one I’ve ever found where you can find the coverage you want and have a senisble discussion without the benefit of trolls !

    • funnily enough there is a full match report for Wales -Scotland. And oddly you seem to have found it.

      There are many things I take issue with in some of the articles on various subjects, but reports on club matches certainly isn’t one of them. However remote from the Scotland team, grass roots rugby is of major interest to many many rugby fans and this outlet about as good a place to read about it as any, with many good and dedicated people watching and writing reports.
      Your post is just stupid. Read what you like, ignore what you are not interested in. Or set up your own website and put the URL on here so we can all ignore it

  13. And what was the penalty count, can’t see it anywhere? I assume against us again, as last week, 13-10.
    It clearly needs to be addressed.

    • 8-13

      Stats not really in our favour except in missed tackles. So defence good. What we did with the ball not so good.

  14. Just as well we were not in Paris today. One game is never enough to reveal the relative team strengths. Wales were beaten by a decent Irish XV away while Scotland would seem to have scrapped past last years fifth placed team – perhaps fifth for a reason (?).. The front row looked the correct selection. First half we edged the scrums but the Welsh were allowed to hook and collapse every scrum to protect the ball, the ref happy to let it go as long as the ball was available. After the change the Welsh could stay on their feet and started to go forward. In the end it was not a good day at the office against very limited opposition that had not much more than heart to offer – it was enough.
    We go again in two weeks, but on this performance we are not playing for the championship, just placings.
    Can we have some players back for the Pro team games now?

  15. I have thought for 2 years or so that our back row has to include Luke Crosbie, Crosbie brings a physicality, an aggression that we so need. Alas he’s had his issues with injuries.
    Furthermore Redpath needs to start to take the pressure off Finn R……

  16. Any comments on refereeing of the rucks?

    This applies to both games so not mumping because we lost.

    I felt there were quite a few occasions when forwards “appeared” to join at the sides.

    I am also a former low grade prop so perhaps rather out of touch re rules.

    So,go easy on me.

    • It’s Ireland that really wind me up, and including the Pro teams in this.

      Am i just imagining it, or are the Irish Forwards trained to cheat.

      Just one example, Edinburgh’s first attack at Leinster, stopped by the ball scooting out sideways from the ruck, IT WAS AN IRISH HAND …. and it happens all the time and they get away with it.

      So I agree with you 🙂

  17. Won by 3 points last week lost by 3 points this week, O the joys of being a Scotland supporter. Not much comfort to take from the performance. Thought Finn was way to casual, this week, they seemed not to get much mileage out of VDM or Tuipulotu making big runs. The front row bomb squad was at best a damp squib. Only bright spot has to be Graham again and we managed to get Darge and White on. Not sure what the point of Redpath for 2 minutes was give him at least 20. We are going to need a vast improvement when France come to town.

    • Thought that Darcy was bright and sharp again (must have been light on his feet as Gabby called him ‘ Darcy Russel’ at one stage after the match) and Tuipulotu showed up well at 12 (his link play was vital for our try). White’s delivery was slow when he came on and neither Redpath or Darge got much chance to show what they can do. But most of all, we just lost the collisions up front and gave away too many penalties.

  18. No lack of effort – but our heads were not in the right place? Let’s be honest, Wales didn’t light up the match, and didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect in terms of passion and workrate – so why were we not ready for that???

    A sore one this – as it was there for the taking and our composure seemed to let us down. We’ve gotta learn how to handle these pressures and keep cool heads…. At least we will be the underdogs v France 😁. Beat them and it’s all setup for Dublin…

    • Too passive; too lacking in guts. Beaten by a poorer team who wanted it more – and that is pathetic from a Scotland team that want to be seen as contenders.
      Stop listening to the spraff and start fighting.
      Until then we will never be more than bit part actors.
      So frustraiting!!!

      • Maybe we neeed to toss Gregor os keep him as attack coach and find a Telfor, someone who can wind our guys up?

  19. We missed Ritchie at the breakdown and it was generally hard to discern what the game plan was. Russell had a bad day at the office, but there really weren’t many good days today. When last I heard, it’s the visiting team’s choice whether the roof is open or closed, why would you choose to play in the rain?
    The battle between France and Ireland is over and the bruises will have healed by the time France get to Murrayfield, we’ll have to be better prepared than we were today.

  20. Sorry but clueless again in Cardiff. Despite holding the bomb squad for the second half, we lost the collisions from start to finish and couldn’t impose our game. Not a lot of control from Finn either after his puppet-master performance last week. We definitely left that game out there. I can see Wales not winning another match in the 6N other than Italy, but they just believe(know) they can beat Scotland any given year. Really frustrating – #deja-vu.

    • I’m now watching France v Ireland, if Scotland had played any of these two today we’d be hammered by a clear 30 points 😕

  21. The system of yellow and red card sanctions is utterly broken. Do we really want to rid the game of intercepts more than shoulder charges to the head? It’s no wonder so many games are boring collision-fests, or that parents & teachers think twice about introducing their kids to rugby. Wales were the better team today and a 3 point win felt about right. But the wider issue is existential for our sport. World Rugby need to sort it out quick

    • I’m now watching France v Ireland, if Scotland had played any of these two today we’d be hammered by a clear 30 points 😕

  22. Aussie ref only refereeing the defending team. Look at the number of times Wales sealed off the ball when going forward.

    • Yes, can’t be bothered to go back and check when and who, but how did Wales get away with the guy under the high ball taking out our catcher, he was literally just wandering underneath, mo attempt to catch.
      But I did look at the Finn Yellow, his hand is moving up and the ball moves up, he’s clearly trying to catch it. Penalty maybe, but no need for the Yellow, the trouble with all these video replays is the Refs become the centre of attention and they like it and seem to prefer to give the highest possible sanction.

  23. If it was only VDM we could probably have survived it, but at least 3 bad errors from Finn, and JG dropped the ball at least twice, and then add on the other penalties.

    Only plus point I can think of is I don’t think Zander gave away a silly penalty 🙂

    • Yes he did! He gave the most stupid of all, taking out the Welsh 9 late on. He’s a calamity.

    • Just the one. His “bam squad” buddy Turner just the 3. They two really need to sort the discipline out.

  24. My god … flattering to deceive once again, what makes me think it will ever change?

    All the skill, none of the composure, I thought our guys for once were believing, but clearly not.

    Let’s hope Gregor learns from this one, wrong game plan ?? Was there a game plan?

  25. We could have played all day and still not won that game, I’m afraid our much vaunted forwards cannot stand up to simple hard nosed aggression in the tight, and as for the penalty count geez?

    • Found the penalty count- 13-8 against (last week 13-10 against), so at least consistent, but far too many.
      This needs to be addressed quickly.

  26. Infuriating defeat, poor second half and a litany of self-inflicted errors throughout the game. Got away with it last week but got what we deserved today. Well done to Wales, they did what it took to win.

    • If it was only VDM we could probably have survived it, but at least 3 bad errors from Finn, and JG dropped the ball at least twice, and then add on the other penalties.

      Only plus point I can think of is I don’t think Zander gave away a silly penalty 🙂

  27. VDM handling a coach killer today but basically was a good contest evenly matched sides in the main part. Did we kick too much? Felt like we did. A very frustrating defeat.


Comments are closed.