WALES 14 SCOTLAND 21
By Ian Golden at Brewery Field
In front of the biggest Brewery Field crowd of 2007, Wales slumped to
a 21-14 defeat at home to Scotland after conceding three second-half
tries without reply.
Wales were hoping for their biggest attendance since 2002, and while
the crowd didn’t quite beat the 3,112 who watched Wales take on
Australia at the same ground in 2003, the figure of 2,378 was a vast
improvement on the last two years, especially considering that an
estimated 25,000 were just down the road at the Millennium Stadium
watching a rugby union European Cup match at the same time.
It was a disappointing day for the Dragons who were expected to field
Iestyn Harris for the first time in six years. But just before the
game the Welsh Rugby League announced that Iestyn Harris had failed a
fitness test and wouldn’t be playing. Harris had undergone keyhole
surgery on his knee before going on holiday two weeks ago and, with
the rest he was getting, had expected all to be well for the game.
However, the injury flared up while on holiday and was declared unfit
Wales Rugby League Executive Chairman Mark Rowley said: “Everyone at
Wales Rugby League wishes him all the best for the future. We’d loved
to have seen him play today but unfortunately it hasn’t happened. We
hope to see him fit again for the 2007 Super League season and hope
that he be able to play for us in the second leg in Glasgow next year.”
Welsh coach Martin Hall said that the loss of Harris made no
difference to the result.
“It was disappointing not to have Iestyn but it didn’t have any
bearing on the game. If we don’t take opportunities, no matter what
level but especially at international, and you don’t score the
points, it’ll come back and bite you. Fair play to Scotland, all the
opportunities they had, they scored and we did convert our pressure
“But it’s only half-time. We’ve got the second leg – another 80
minutes to come and it’s all to play for.”
Scotland stamped their dominance on the game from the beginning. They
had an early chance when Mike Nanyn laid off to Jamie Benn who dived
for the line but was brilliantly tackled into touch by Bryn Powell.
But they deservedly took the lead on eight minutes with a fine move
in front of the sticks. Ian Henderson laid off to Gareth Morton who
weaved through the backline, handed off to Wade Liddell who grounded.
Mark Lennon tried to get through the Scottish defence on the fifth
tackle but was stopped metres from the line.
But Wales pulled a try back on 16 minutes. From Lee Briers grubber,
Richard Johnson, playing his first game in over three months after
recovering from a broken arm, pounced to ground in the corner. Briers
missed the difficult conversion attempt.
Johnson looked to have had a second on 23 minutes but Damien Gibson’s
pass to him out on the wing was adjudged to have been forward.
Danny Brough was sinbinned for dissent on 26 minutes and Wales duly
took advantage by scoring two tries in the ten minute spell.
Lennon desperately tried to get on the scoresheet as he attempted
another run through but was brilliantly tackled by David McConnell
causing him to lose the ball.
But Wales took the lead in the 32nd minute when Adam Hughes scored in
the corner following fine work from Briers and Robert Roberts. Briers
did well to successfully convert from the touchline.
It was 14-6 straight from kick-off. Johnson created the chance and
Briers brilliantly dodged through to score, but missed a far easier
chance to extend Wales’ lead as he failed to add the extras.
Scotland came out firing on all cylinders after the interval and
scored two quick tries.
The first was an excellent individual effort from Brough that came
after just 70 seconds, while Jamie Benn, the match-winner for
Featherstone Rovers against Celtic Crusaders earlier this season,
added another four minutes later as he pounced on a Henderson
grubber. Mick Nanyn missed both conversions so the scores were level
Both teams fought hard to take the lead. Anthony Blackwood sprinted
30 metres to tackle Jon Steel in his own area, and from the set on
the restart, Liddell made try-saving tackle on Phil Joseph following
an excellent run from Halifax’s latest acquisition.
Scotland were so close to scoring on regaining the ball. Brough,
playing an excellent game, despite the sinbinning, laid off to
Spencer Miller who was tackled by Lennon as he was centimetres from
the line. Miller swung his body over to ground but referee Steve
Ganson declared it a double movement and gave Wales the penalty.
Scotland regained their lead on 67 minutes. Brough created the try,
laying the ball off to Lowe who in turn passed to Nanyn who ran it
though and converted it himself.
Man of the match Danny Brough kicked a fieldgoal with three minutes
to go to seal Scotland’s win.
Scotland coach Steve McCormack was understandably delighted at the
win commenting: “We addressed a few discipline issues at half-time
and came out well. It was a fantastic second-half performance and
being away in Wales against a team Wales have got, it was an
excellent performance from everyone concerned.”
1. Damien Gibson - Halifax RLFC
2. Bryn Powell - Dewsbury Rams
3. Adam Hughes - Widnes Vikings
4. Anthony Blackwood - Celtic Crusaders
5. Richard Johnson - Celtic Crusaders
6. Lee Briers - Warrington Wolves (capt)
7. Mark Lennon - Manly Sea Eagles
8. David Mills - Harlequins RL
9. Ian Watson - Widnes Vikings
10. Hywel Davies - Celtic Crusaders
11. Chris Morley - Swinton Lions
12. Robert Roberts - Leigh Centurions
13. Phil Joseph - Hull Kingston Rovers
14. Gary Hulse - Widnes Vikings
15. Jordan James - Widnes Vikings
16. Gareth Price - Celtic Crusaders
17. Gareth Dean - Celtic Crusaders
Tries: Johnson (16), Hughes (32), Briers (35)
Goals: Briers 1/3
1. Wade Liddell – Gateshead Thunder
2. Jon Steel – Hull Kingston Rovers
3. Mick Nanyn – Widnes Vikings
4. Iain Marsh – Batley Bulldogs
5. Jamie Benn – Featherstone Rovers
6. Ian Henderson - Bradford Bulls
7. Danny Brough - Castleford Tigers
8. Paul Jackson – Huddersfield Giants
9. Ben Fisher – Hull Kingston Rovers
10. Neil Lowe – Doncaster Lakers
11. Spencer Miller – Whitehaven
12. Gareth Morton - Hull KR
13. David McConnell – Rochdale Hornets
14. Ian Sinfield - Swinton Lions
15. Richard Fletcher - Castleford Tigers
16. Keir Bell – London Skolars
17. Dene Miller – St Albans Centurions
Tries: Liddell (8), Brough (41), Benn (45), Nanyn (67)
Goals: Morton 1/1, Nanyn 1/3
Sinbinned: Brough (dissent, 26)
Referee: Steve Ganson (St Helens)
Men of the Match: Wales – Briers, Scotland - Brough
Penalty Count: 7-4
Scoring Sequence: 0-6, 4-6, 10-6, 14-6, 14-10, 14-14, 14-20
Gamestar: Danny Brough, who led with experience, a try and a fieldgoal.
Gamebreaker: Brough’s fieldgoal on 77 minutes sealed it.
Weather: Dry and cloudy. Not very cold.
Match Rating: 3/5