HOTSHOTS – Matthew Morgan (Ospreys)

first_imgTAGS: Ospreys Fly Half Matthew MorganThere’s a feeling in some rugby circles that young players have the natural flair coached out of them, but Swansea coach Richard Webster is determined not to let that happen to outside-half Matthew Morgan.“He just wants to run with a rugby ball and he doesn’t know anything else. He’s a breath of fresh air,” says the former Wales flanker.Morgan, 18, is in his first season with Swansea. Having learned his rugby at Bridgend Athletic, Brynteg Comp and Pencoed College, he made such an impression in his first month with the All Whites that he won the Principality Premiership Player of the Month award and was picked to play for the Ospreys in the LV= Cup victory over Leicester.Webster noticed the former Wales U18s player when he turned out for Bridgend in the last month of last season, helping to save them from relegation from Swalec League One East. The youngster nearly turned down that opportunity – “It was the weekend of my 18th birthday and I had been planning a weekend off,” laughs Morgan.He’s small in stature but Webster says: “He’s powerful. I had no fears about putting him in the first team. He’s got to improve his kicking and game management but when a boy can run like that you don’t care.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Born in Reading, Morgan moved to Wales when he was eight. His brother Tom is a Swansea back-row and his family have helped to keep him grounded. Now the Ospreys and Swansea are working together to maximise his potential.RUGBY WORLD VERDICT: His innate flair and a good attitude make Morgan a great prospect.Katie Fieldlast_img read more

Video of the Day – Mark Cueto gets skinned alive

first_img Sale Sharks and England rugby union player Mark Cueto is seen during a photo-shoot for MultipowerEngland and Sale Shark winger is focusing on the challenge of facing Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations this Sunday. However, here is your chance to see the Multipower ambassador as never before. He spent three hours standing (near enough) completely still to have his body painted to show his anatomical muscular make-up. Check out the video below, and not to worry its been speeded up for you… Sale Sharks and England rugby union player Mark Cueto is seen during a photo-shoot for Multipower LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img

Reds prove too much for Western Force

first_imgBRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 03: Mike Harris of the Reds is tackled by David Pockock of the Force during the round two Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) David Pocock lurches for match winner Mike HarrisThe Emirates Western Force turned in a much improved team performance up against reigning FxPro Super Rugby champions Queensland as both sides scored two tries but the boot of Reds flyhalf Mike Harris proved the difference following a flawless nine shots on goal.While the 35-20 result emphasised the impact that Harris had on the match, it didn’t accurately reflect the performance of the Emirates Western Force who showed great character and fight after half time.Staring down a 17 point margin and a pumped up Reds outfit following two first half tries, the West Australian’s scored 14 unanswered points in the second half to get within six with 25 minutes to play.Tries to David Pocock and James Stannard sent a scare through the Queenslanders hit back with penalties to extend the margin back out late in the game.While the Emirates Western Force will head back to Perth without a point for their efforts, they did show there is only a fine margin between them and the benchmark side in the competition, and with a few minor tweaks the WA side can be a real threat in 2012.In danger of seeing a blow-out result after 40 minutes, Coach Richard Graham applauded the resilience and fighting qualities of his squad was enthused by the improvement across the park, particularly in the backs, following on from their round one defeat.“I was really pleased with our character immediately after half time,” Graham said. “We tried to play a little too much in the opening 40 minutes, particularly in and around the midfield.  We didn’t panic at half time and knew that if we played at the right end of the field and applied some pressure that we’d actually score some tries.“After we went over for that second try we need to continue to play at the right end of the field but weren’t able to keep that position consistently.  In those conditions it was critical to building pressure and scoring.  We will continue to learn from the result and practice so that we can convert tries into wins.”Ball security was at a premium for both sides as the heavens opened just before kick-off and heavy rain set in for the majority of the opening half.  The Reds enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges with Ben Tapuai scoring the opening try of the match wide on the left after 20 minutes. Then, with five minutes remaining in the half, Reds No8 Radike Samo snatched an intercept in his own half and sprinted 50 meters to dot down under the posts.  Harris’ conversion and another penalty right on the half time bell saw the Queenslanders open up a 17 point advantage and the Emirates Western Force looked gone for all money.The West Australian’s though proved they are made of much sterner stuff in 2012 and refused to be bullied into submission in the second half.  Far from the Reds enjoying free reign, the Emirates Western Force came out with great intent and following a reshuffle in the halves they looked more potent in attack.Young flyhalf Ben Seymour was brought into the action for his debut in FxPro Super Rugby and starting 10 James Stannard moved into halfback.  The change had almost immediate results as Stannard played a quick ball from the breakdown to feed skipper David Pocock who barrelled his way through the Reds defence to score.Five minutes later the Perth side was again in good position and this time Stannard took the ball himself and shimmied his way past the Queenslanders to bring the margin back to just six.From there the game tightened with neither side able to make a decisive break.The margin was nine with four minutes to play but two more successful penalties from Harris put some space on the scoreboard as he took his personal tally to 25.After starting the season with back to back away matches, the Emirates Western Force head home to play the Hurricanes at nib Stadium on Friday night. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Queensland Reds: 35 (Tries: Ben Tapuai, Radike Samo; Con: Mike Harris 2/2; Pen: Mike Harris 7/7; DG: Will Genia 0/1)Western Force: 20 (Tries: James Stannard, David Pocock; Con: James Stannard 2/2; Pen: James Stannard 2/3)last_img read more

Young gun Harry Robinson signs for Blues

first_img TAGS: Cardiff Blues CARDIFF, WALES – JUNE 02: Harry Robinson of Wales celebrates scoring the opening try during the international match between Wales and The Barbarians at Millennium Stadium on June 2, 2012 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images) The young gun: Robinson scoring here for Wales against the Baa-BaasTEENAGE WINGER Harry Robinson has signed a senior contract with Cardiff Blues.Robinson, 19, impressed Welsh selectors and was called up to the Wales 35 man senior squad for the training camp in Poland prior to the 2012 Six Nations Championship. He made a try-scoring debut for his country in June, in the test against the Barbarians.In 2010/11 he won the Cardiff Blues Academy Player of the Year Award having had an outstanding season and became the youngest ever player to represent the Cardiff Blues, when, aged 17 years and nine months, he lined up against the Ospreys in the LV= Cup. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Speaking of the signing Robinson said, “It was an easy decision to make and I took the offer with both hands.”“My ambition is to establish myself in the Blues team but competition is going to be tough with the quality back three players we have in the squad at the moment.”last_img read more

Legends Q&A: Jason Robinson, Jonathan Davies and Gavin Hastings

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Here is out Twitter Q&A: [View the story “British legends Q&A” on Storify]center_img COURTESY OF our buddies at HSBC, we have been allowed the opportunity to sit cross-legged at the feet of some of the greats of the game, sticking our hands up and nervously blurting out your questions for them to answer. And bless their hearts, ambassadors Jason Robinson, Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies and Gavin Hastings were kind enough to answer them.last_img

Inside an Ireland training session

first_imgTraining day: Ireland centre Brian O’Driscoll practises his passing at a Captain’s RunFORMER IRELAND and Munster back-row Alan Quinlan goes inside the Six Nations squad’s training camp and talks us through their warm-up routine with strength and conditioning coach Jason Cowman… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img

Scotland: Five things we learned against Australia

first_imgWithout the strike runners we have uncovered in recent seasons in Stuart Hogg and Tim Visser, and with Sean Maitland having to field kicks under pressure instead of hitting the line at pace, Scotland still struggle to score tries. Our first choice backline is probably Scott and Dunbar at centre with Maitland and Visser on the wings and Hogg at fullback, and for injury reasons we didn’t see that at all this November and the try count stayed low. With Visser’s long term leg injury we still may not until next summer.Still, if nothing else, it all makes us look reassuringly rubbish ahead of the Six Nations; luring them into a false sense of security and all that. Some good news is that Ross Rennie played 40 minutes for Edinburgh against Ulster at the weekend, and if Johnson continues to ignore everyone else, Rennie’s return can’t come quickly enough.Other positional problems that will plague the Scotland management going forward: we lack depth at hooker, tighthead and at fullback.On the other hand, the second row is looking strongJim Hamilton earned his 50th cap against Australia, and while he still gives away the odd rash penalty, he has taken over admirably from Nathan Hines as Scotland’s enforcer. With Tim Swinson rapidly becoming a major power in this Scotland squad, the giant Gray brothers become icing on the cake. It does mean there is little room for the master tactician Al Kellock, but he will surely be passing on all he knows to Gray and Swinson at Glasgow.Murrayfield can still raise an atmosphere outside of the Six NationsUntil recently, the autumn Internationals tended to be a bit of a soulless affair, with paltry crowds or the atmosphere provided by the visiting fans. The SRU is often criticised for a lack of good sense but in terms of ticketing they’ve struck a winner, offering great value season passes for all of the home games including the Six Nations, allowing fans access to those big games that has the pleasant side effect of a consistent crowd across the Autumn tests too.Atmosphere: Murrayfield actually had some last Saturday!Following family-oriented pre-match entertainments and a little razzmatazz (even Scott Johnson liked the light show on Saturday), the atmosphere at the start of all three games was excellent. Although it went rapidly downhill during the South African onslaught, the Australia game was noisy throughout the game, despite Scotland’s woes. Performance on the park is a big factor, as Scotland fans will forgive ineptitude as long as there is heart. Of course another possible explanation was the 6pm kickoff; everyone had been in the pubs all afternoon!Scotland still struggle to score tries LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Downhearted: Kelly Brown plugged away for Scotland and they could hsve won, but Australia found a way to winBy Scottish Rugby Blog’s Rory BaldwinHere are five things that stand out after Scotland’s 15-21 loss to the visiting Wallabies.We still don’t know Scotland’s strongest teamWhen our top team is available, we should be able to offer a challenge to most teams bar the All Blacks, if perhaps not beat many of them. There are talented rugby players in Scotland.Our two main problems are a lack of depth in certain key areas or an unwillingness to test the depth, and as a result we don’t really know our top team ahead of the Six Nations. We’ve seen Ross Ford, Sean Maitland, David Denton and Nick De Luca start all three tests, to name but a few. Meaning that talent like Chris Fusaro, Mark Bennett, Kieran Low, Blair Cowan, Rob Harley, Greig Tonks or Pat MacArthur remain relatively untried at the top level.That South Africa match would have been a perfect proving ground for young players – it’s not going to get much more difficult than that for an attacker or a defender and the score couldn’t have been much worse.Scott Johnson said in the final press conference that his plan had always been to replace Ford at half time against Australia, as he needed to see MacArthur get more game time. As we’re well aware of Ford’s capabilities, this was a decision that could have been taken a lot earlier in the series, perhaps before it began.Strong: Hamilton and his fellow locks shoneInstead, Ford has had two and a half games to underperform, while Hall, Lawson and MacArthur have had little opportunity. We think MacArthur is the closest second choice hooker, but we’re not sure. Which isn’t where we want to be at this stage.Playing three No 8s is not the greatest plan in the worldThe openside thing: I’m going to bang on about it again, sorry. Michael Hooper was outstanding for Australia, slowing down the Scottish ball single-handedly and controlling the pace Scotland were allowed to play at. Scotland, in return, had very little control over Australia at the breakdown. Sure, Brown (playing 7 but not a 7) and Beattie (playing 6 and not a 6) tackled everything manfully enough but there wasn’t enough breakdown technique there to outwit Australia who are very well drilled. As a result, Scotland got little quick ball, precious few turnovers, and struggled to make headway.Unfortunately, Australia have good breakdown technique throughout and scramble defence allowed them to recover sufficiently to prevent the try Scotland desperately needed when they did break clear. EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – NOVEMBER 23: Scottish Highland dancers perform during the build up to the Scotland v Australia Autumn International Series Match at Murrayfield Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images) last_img read more

Top 14: Time to knuckle down for Montpellier’s Fabien Galthie

first_img Plenty to ponder: Fabien Galthie has plenty of expectations at Montpellier There’s always been a touch of the Brendan Venter about Fabien Galthie. The pair have much in common. Very good players who have become very good coaches, harnessing their playing experience to deep intelligence and an innate streak of boldness. Both are also their own men. In a sport that is most comfortable with conformity the former Saracens’ director of rugby and the Montpellier coach do things their way – and to hell with convention. Who can forget Venter’s extraordinary post-match interview four years ago, his response to an RFU fine for using intemperate language?Venter thought it was funny, most viewed it as petulant, symptomatic of a man who treads a fine line between self-assurance and arrogance. It’s another trait he shares with Galthie. Talented, handsome and charismatic, Galthie was born blessed – and he knows it. Winner of 64 caps and the first Frenchmen to appear in four World Cup finals, Galthie moved effortlessly into coaching a year after his 2003 retirement .Joining Stade Francais in 2004-05, he guided them into the Top 14 final in his first season in charge and two seasons later repeated the feat – only this time Stade triumphed. Galthie stood down from coaching in 2008, choosing instead to put his engaging personality to good use as a rugby consultant on French television. He was lured back to coaching in 2010 by Montpellier, and in his first season they reached their first Top 14 final, losing 15-10 to Toulouse in a match that confirmed Montpellier as a serious player in French rugby.In charge: Galthie was linked with the French job before it went to Philippe Saint-AndreThere was talk in 2011 that Galthie could replace Marc Lievremont as the coach of the national team, but Philippe Saint-Andre got that particular gig. He was the safe choice. Galthie would have been a gamble. More exciting, for sure, but less malleable, less likely to toe the FFR line. Galthie doesn’t do pliable. He does what Galthie wants. He proved it earlier this month, jetting off to Brazil to help French business tycoon Serge Kampf celebrate his 80th birthday. It was a great party apparently, one attended by a host of famous faces from French rugby. Thomas Castaignede was there, so too Philippe Bernat-Salles and Max Guazzini.Bernard Laporte and Guy Noves were also invited but respectfully declined. “I explained to Serge Kampf that it wasn’t possible,” said Laporte. The Toulon director of rugby had Top 14 commitments, as did Noves. Galthie, too,  but he went anyway, missing Montpellier’s match against Oyonnax.He returned on the following Tuesday, touching down to a torrent of criticism. “I know what sort of society we live in and this fuss conforms precisely to our society today,” said Galthie by way of response. “I’m not at all surprised by its scale.” On the one hand, good for you, Galthie. He’d cleared it with his employer, Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad, so what business is it of anyone’s – lest of all Laporte, a man who in recent seasons has hardly set a stirring example what with his tirades against referees? But it was naïve of Galthie, normally so media savvy, not to expect his rivals to seize on his South American jolly. It was an error of judgement to accept Kampf’s invitation, a case of Galthie’s ego getting the better of his common sense. As a result he’s become vulnerable. Two good victories in the Rugby Champions Cup and the furore would have been forgotten. But Montpellier tasted only defeat, losing away at Toulouse and at home to Glasgow.Galthie failed to strike the right tone in his post-match interview after the Glasgow game, muttering about mistakes costing his side dear. But his words appeared a bit blasé, not helped by his smiling.Box-office: The Montpellier president has spent out on the likes of Rene Ranger and Ben MowenMohed Altrad wasn’t amused. The Montpellier owner is a tough man, orphaned at an early age and raised by desert nomads in Syria. Self-taught and self-made, Altrad earned his millions through business flair and sheer bloody graft and he doesn’t take kindly to complacency. Normally after each home game Altrad pops into the Montpellier dressing-room to offer a few words of encouragement, win, lose or draw. Not after the Glasgow game. “It’s a message,” he said later, adding that the defeat was “disastrous”. He would be seeking answers from players and coaches. Life and rugby has come pretty easily to French legend Fabien Galthie but his Montpellier side are flattering to deceive and it’s time he stepped upcenter_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Prior to the start of the season Altrad had stated that anything other than reaching the quarter-final of the Rugby Champions Cup would be seen as a failure. Montpellier are on the brink of elimination after just two rounds and he’s furious. “If we haven’t reached our objective and there’s a need to start again from scratch it’s because the work hasn’t been done like it should have been done,” explained Altrad. There was a indcation, too, that he was becoming impatient with Montpellier’s failure to kick on since their one and only Top 14 final appearance. In the last three seasons they have finished in the top six of the regular season only to be outmanoeuvred by Castres in the play-offs each time. Last season their Heineken Cup campaign was a fiasco (they beat only Treviso) and the Champions Cup looks like going the same way. “We have stumbled again but everybody stumbles,” said Altrad. “You know my history, I don’t give up just like that and I will lead this club where I want to lead it.”It was a clear warning to Galthie. The days of nonchalance are over, it’s time to knuckle down.last_img read more

Analysis: How will England’s defence stand up against Wales?

first_img For the first time in the 2016 Six Nations, England’s defence was put under sustained pressure during the second half against Ireland. Some gaps began to appear, starting with the D from set-piece.Tight midfield from set-pieceFrom both lineout and scrum, England’s midfield of 10 George Ford, 12 Owen Farrell and 13 Jonathan Joseph defend very tight. This is particularly obvious in the picture from a scrum right at the end of the first half.England start with decent spacings, with about seven metres between Ford and Farrell and ten metres between Farrell and Joseph.However, after the Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton makes the second pass to his inside-centre Stuart McCloskey and begins to wrap around him, the midfield D suddenly becomes very condensed around the physical threat of McCloskey (for which read Jamie Roberts for Wales). The England 10, 12 and 13 are all in a ‘box’ of no more than four square metres at 39:03.This leaves the widest defender Joseph running at a 90-degree angle towards touch to make up ground on Sexton as he gets the ball back from McCloskey. If Sexton passes immediately to Rob Kearney outside him, there will be plenty of space to run into on the far side.A similar scenario occurs from the lineout at 15:30. With the England 9 Ben Youngs starting in the tram-lines, neither 2 Dylan Hartley nor 7 James Haskell have the speed required to put much pressure on Ireland’s first receiver (McCloskey).This in turn means that Ford is pinned to McCloskey’s outside shoulder, with Farrell only two metres away and already angled slightly out-to-in and ready to help out. If the blocker out in front (13 Robbie Henshaw) continues his run through Farrell’s inside shoulder he will attract the tackle legally and free Sexton to run through the gap between Farrell and Joseph. Instead he stops and puts hands on Farrell, and that draws the interference penalty from the referee and nullifies the break. Wales have considerably more size and power in their back division than Ireland, so in theory it will be easier for them to exploit these potential weaknesses in the England defence. But will the plan survive first contact with the enemy?For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS We take a look at holes in England’s defence against Ireland and how Wales might look to exploit these issues in the Six Nations In the event, Farrell gets no further than play-side guard before he turns to rush upfield on to  Henshaw.The two defenders underneath Farrell (George Kruis and Dan Cole) actually end up defending directly behind Farrell, rather than alongside him as Henshaw makes the break!Pressure on the aerobic capacity of England’s forwardsThe demand to rush hard upfield on every play places an enormous aerobic strain on England’s forwards. They have to do an awful lot of running up and down the field in defence. Look at this snapshot at 51:29 in the second half:Both Farrell and Ford are rushing well past the ball on the outside and poor old Cole underneath them has no time to set his feet for the tackle as Sexton cuts inside – he can only throw out an arm in despair as the Ireland outside-half streams past him. I believe it was the constant demand to rush upfield which led to the aerobic wind-down in England’s starting tight forwards and Ultan Dillane’s clean break at 70:19 – another failed arm tackle by Hartley and Cole.Vulnerability to blocking playsEngland are also potentially vulnerable to blocking plays – defenders cannot ‘check off’ attackers one by one as they would when continuing to move sideways in the drift because they are running a full course straight upfield. Apart from the Henshaw example at 15:32, at 64:51 after driving upfield for a few metres Mako Vunipola has no ‘out’ left in him to shift on to Sexton and gets blocked out by Nathan White.Sexton’s break set up the ‘try-that-wasn’t’ for Henshaw in the corner.Attacking George Ford’s channelFord is a smart defender but England are using him in the line, and Ireland always had a decent bread-and butter option by aiming a heavier ball-carrier down his channel. In the following, Donnacha Ryan simply drops his shoulder and carries Ford fully five metres downfield to set up a positive ruck. England’s defensive ‘personality’: line speed not line integrityEngland want to get off the line and move upfield at speed in order to place maximum pressure on the ball-handling of the opposition. They are not too worried about maintaining a flat line of defence. This suits their ‘outlaw’ image under Jones, but can create holes when either line speed or communication is not consistent across the board. So at 39:12 the line looks pretty ragged: Both Ford and Farrell have drifted off the line and are thinking of crossing over to the far side of the D, where the last defender (6 Chris Robshaw) is already ahead of the man inside him, Joe Marler. Welsh advantage: Warren Gatland’s men came out on top in the World Cup. Photo: Getty Images last_img read more

Wales 34-7 Scotland Is Six Nations the new Super Rugby?

first_imgThe Six Nations kicked off with an entertaining game in Cardiff as Wales beat Scotland 34-7 – we analyse whether the northern hemisphere is now replicating the south Wales – Tries: G Davies, Halfpenny 2, S Evans. Cons: Halfpenny 4. Pens: Halfpenny 2.Scotland – Try: Horne. Con: Russell. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Wales 34-7 ScotlandNorthern hemisphere rugby is oft-maligned for being stodgy, forward-orientated and unambitious, yet for those who witnessed the Wales 34-7 Scotland Six Nations game in Cardiff it was anything but.In fact, the level of ambition was such that it could be likened to the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby or even the Rugby Championship. Those competitions are renowned for attacking flair, end-to-end encounters and high try counts – and the Wales and Scotland teams did their utmost to fulfil that criteria at the Principality Stadium, albeit that the hosts were far more successful than the visitors. Scotland may be known as a team of skills and thrills, but it was Wales who turned on the style and, perhaps more importantly, shut down their opponents while the boys in blue fell significantly short defensively, which is a common criticism of Super Rugby too!Break man: Jonny Gray found an early hole in Wales’ defence. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Scots started at a fast pace, setting out their stall in Wales’ half and looking for chinks in the red wall. Jonny Gray found one within two minutes, taking the ball on the 10m line and striding past Rhys Patchell with purpose only to be penalised at the subsequent breakdown.The Welsh forwards weren’t to be outshone, though. Man of the Match Aaron Shingler made a burst up the middle before Cory Hill and Alun Wyn Jones took the ball on – the Wales skipper proving that you can teach an old(ish) dog new tricks. Rob Evans showed his usual deft touches while Samson Lee palmed a brilliant ball to Ross Moriarty after half an hour and Elliot Dee’s back-handed pop allowed Gareth Davies to break into Scotland’s 22 midway through the second half.These are the sort of ball skills we’re more used to seeing from forwards bedecked in all black, but here they were from two home unions sides wearing red and blue.LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSBoth fly-halves, Patchell and Finn Russell, relish playing flat to the gain-line and they did so here, keeping those without the ball guessing as to what they would do with it. Sometimes it would be a pop pass, at others it would be a long one out wide; there was a loop move here, a probing kick there. Variety is what every team needs or the opposition can predict all too easily what is about to come next.And the two tens were not afraid to launch attacks from their own 22s either – the conservative approach seemingly shelved. The head may not have been changing direction as often as when watching a tennis match but there were several periods when play flowed from one end of the field to the other, the attacking intent from both sides capable of causing a crick in the neck.center_img Boot boy: Rhys Patchell utilised his kicking game well against Scotland. Photo: Getty ImagesThis sense of purpose with ball in hand was admirable – yet ambition needs to be matched with execution and the flaw in this Test was neither team could be as accurate as the All Blacks. This is where Scotland especially disappointed as again they failed to deliver on the promise and hype leading into this game. The intent was there but the skills simply weren’t executed accurately.Russell and Ali Price are well known for the tempo they bring but it was actually a delay from the scrum-half that allowed his opposite number, Gareth Davies, to pounce on a pass and sprint clear for an interception try. On other occasions they lost their shape and looked muddled in midfield with the new centre pairing of Huw Jones and Chris Harris. Balls were spilled and carriers penalised for holding on after finding themselves isolated.Centre point: Huw Jones could not exert his usual influence in midfield. Photo: Getty ImagesCredit here must go to Wales defence. The Scarlets pair of Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams were rock-solid in midfield, firmly holding up the ‘stop’ sign to anyone who headed down their channel. The selection of Josh Navidi at openside may have been questioned by some but his graft at the contact area resulted in turnovers – a facet Scotland were expected to dominate with both Hamish Watson and John Barclay in the back row.Wales found a verve with ball in hand to better that of Scotland, who simply couldn’t get their attacking game to click in order to penetrate the Welsh defence until the closing minutes. Leigh Halfpenny crossed for two tries – his first in a Wales shirt for five years – while Steff Evans wrapped up the bonus point by finishing off a move that involved Shingler and Navidi. That demonstrates just how clinical this Welsh performance was.Bright spark: Leigh Halfpenny scored his first Wales try for five years. Photo: Getty ImagesSo is the Six Nations the new Super Rugby? Well, the desire to keep ball in hand and run from their own half was certainly reminiscent of southern hemisphere teams, albeit that more breaks would result in tries Down Under. Yet the rigid defence (from Wales at least) and ability to change tack with a kick also showed more diversity in tactics than Super Rugby can be known for.There was style and substance on display in Cardiff – will the other four teams deliver the same as the championship continues? And what awaits when Wales visit Twickenham next Saturday? Over time: Gareth Davies scores the opening try for Wales against Scotland. Photo: Getty Images last_img read more