Scotland player ratings vs Wales


Scotland player ratings: Having lost their last 11 matches in Cardiff, including nine in the Championship, since 2002, Scotland finally ended that miserable sequence with a 27-26 victory at the Principality Stadium.

But having led 27-0 two minutes into the second half and seemingly in cruise control, this was so nearly another Scottish disaster in the Welsh capital as the hosts roared back to within a point.

At the end of a breathless encounter though, Scotland have won their opening Six Nations match for a fourth successive year, with home games against France and England to follow next.

Here is how the players fared:

15. Kyle Rowe – 6.5
Thrust into an unfamiliar full-back role for his first Test start, the specialist wing missed an early high ball but looked at ease thereafter, one high tackle aside. A slick break and floated pass set the platform for Van der Merwe’s try and carried – on eight occasions – with intent.

14. Kyle Steyn – 7
In the absence of the injured Darcy Graham, who he also replaced for the whole of last year’s Six Nations, Steyn showed why he is a more than capable deputy. Chased hard, won ball in the air and a reliable presence in defence. His break onto Redpath’s pass in the final minute almost led to a fourth Scottish try.

13. Huw Jones – 6
One loose pass early on stopped a promising attack and few opportunities to cut loose with ball in hand. A counter from his own 22 in second half might have lifted the Welsh siege, but failed to release Van der Merwe and was tap-tackled. But made 13 tackles in a solid defensive display.

12. Sione Tuipulotu – 7
Scotland’s go-to man to truck the ball up in midfield and make hard yards when required, and a superb foil for Russell in attack, creating the wraparound for Van der Merwe’s try.  Copped a yellow card on the hour for straying offside and Wales scored two tries in his absence. Ended up packing down at flanker on his return.

11. Duhan van der Merwe – 6.5
Handed his 22nd Test try on a plate in first half and after taking another Russell pass, one step and swerve was enough to burn off the remaining Welsh cover for his 23rd, moving him into fifth place on Scotland’s all-time list. Denied a hat-trick score in the final play of the match, but not in the game enough from a Scottish perspective despite his nine carries.

10. Finn Russell – 7
Leading Scotland for only the second time, the self-styled ‘Lionel Messi of rugby’ had the run of the Principality in the first half. A couple of loose punts but mixed up his kicking game well, probing for space, with one 50:22 and landed five out of five at goal. Also created both of Van der Merwe’s tries, but struggled to regain control in the second half until the final moments.

9. Ben White – 6
His clearing kicks were bang on the money during an excellent first half, taking the pressure off Russell and giving his chasers time to compete in the air. Generally tidy service from the base, but his influence waned as the match wore on and gave way to Horne late on.

Match Summary

1. Pierre Schoeman – 7
Averaged 15.7 carries in last year’s Championship, more than any other player. Only managed three here, but one saw him power over from close range for his fourth Test try, and had made 15 tackles when he departed after 62 minutes.

2. George Turner – 6
Decent first half, one missed lineout aside, with a couple of big hits, strong carries and good work on the ground, snaffling errant Welsh lineout ball. Shown a yellow card after 47 minutes for bringing down a Welsh maul, and his absence was keenly felt as Wales seized the momentum.

3. Zander Fagerson – 5.5
A mixed bag on the tighthead’s 63rd cap, conceding one scrum penalty for collapsing and another for not rolling away at a ruck. Made his fair share of tackles with nine, but Scotland would have wanted to see him more involved in the loose, with only three carries to his name.

4. Richie Gray – 5
The 34-year-old veteran, 14 years after he first burst onto the international scene, made his presence felt early on, stealing Welsh lineout ball and showing soft hands in attack. But forced off injured after half an hour, replaced by Skinner.

5. Scott Cummings – 5.5
Absence of the banned Grant Gilchrist handed him a first Six Nations start since 2021 and got stuck into the tight exchanges, with 11 tackles contributing to the defensive effort and a couple of lineout takes. But not able to make his presence felt with ball in hand and another who got swept up in the Welsh maelstrom in the second half.

Scotland Wales
Press Association

6. Luke Crosbie – 6
Having started the first two matches of last season’s Championship at seven, Crosbie’s extra ballast and abrasive edge seem more suited to six. He made 11 tackles and hit hard, one aggressive clear-out on Costelow escaping any sanction despite the Welsh fly-half’s HIA. But barely seen with ball in hand.

7. Jamie Ritchie – 5.5
Stripped of the captaincy and switched to openside, the former skipper needed a big game with new co-captain Rory Darge set to be available to face France next Saturday.  Made 14 tackles but overshadowed by Tommy Reffell in the breakdown battle, where he struggled to exert enough influence as the game nearly slipped away. Replaced by Dempsey for final quarter.

8. Matt Fagerson – 6.5
Preferred to Glasgow team-mate Jack Dempsey to start at 8, Fagerson – who made the most tackles of any player in last year’s Six Nations with 83 – put in his usual prodigious shift in defence, topping Scotland’s tackle count with 18.  But another back-rower barely seen with ball in hand, in contrast to his opposite number Wainwright.

Replacements:

16. Ewan Ashman – 5
A brief eight-minute appearance while Turner was in the sin-bin, before returning to the fray in the final quarter. Few chances to impress but a couple of decent carries.

17. Alec Hepburn – 6
Preferred to Jamie Bhatti on the bench, the former England cap came on for his second Test debut just after the hour. Several strong carries and helped win a vital scrum penalty late on.

18. Elliot Millar-Mills – 5
On for his Test debut aged 31, the Northampton prop stood up well at scrum-time, enjoying his part in earning a late penalty, but will need more minutes before a proper assessment can be made of his readiness for this level.

19. Sam Skinner – 5
Thrust into the fray after only half an hour when Gray was forced off injured, the Edinburgh struggled to exert any great influence on proceedings but weighed in with 10 tackles.

20. Jack Dempsey – 5
Only one game for Glasgow since returning from a facial injury that required skull surgery, Dempsey had to settle for a place on the bench and entered the fray just after the hour. Another who was restricted largely to defensive duties as Scotland struggled to lift the siege.

21. George Horne – 5
Not the easiest time to be sent on with 11 minutes left as the game seemed to be slipping from Scotland’s grasp, but brought some energy and control at the base.

22. Ben Healy – not used

23. Cameron Redpath – 6
Father Bryan was captain of the last Scotland team to prevail in Cardiff in 2002, and his son made it a family double after entering the fray in the final 10 minutes. His half-break and pass sent Steyn away in the counter-attack that finally brought Scotland some respite.





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