Six Nations: Wales hold off Scotland fightback to keep grand slam hopes alive

A dominant first-half display at Murrayfield gave way for a second-half in which the hosts spurned a host of chances

epa07424771 Jonathan Davies of Wales scores the second try during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby match Scotland v Wales in Edinburgh, Britain, 09 March 2019.  EPA/Robert Perry

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones lauded his side's "defensive performance" on Saturday after resisting constant pressure in the second half to beat Scotland 18-11 and maintain their hopes of clinching a Six Nations grand slam.

The win, courtesy of first half tries from Josh Adams and Jonathan Davies, means Wales sit on top of the table with 16 points, but face a tough test to clinch the tournament when they host Ireland in Cardiff on March 16.

After dominating the first half against an injury-hit Scotland, Wales had to survive a stirring second-half comeback as the hosts brought a previously subdued Murrayfield crowd to their feet with a score from Darcy Graham.

Replacement Hamish Watson was to the fore in the Scottish comeback, bringing some of the carrying power that Scotland had lacked in the first half with a series of bruising charges.

But Scotland spurned several opportunities to kick for goal in pursuit of a second try that never came, leaving Wales to breathe a sigh of relief at narrowly closing out a game they had earlier threatened to steamroll.

The visiting side led 15-6 at half-time, with the scoreline not reflecting their overall dominance as Scotland struggled to cope with Wales' mix of crushing phase-based attack play and sharp finishing.

Scotland were hit by a string of first-half injuries that added to an already lengthy pre-game roster of absent players, with the back-three duo of Tommy Seymour and Blair Kinghorn going off early.

Wales fullback Liam Williams also left in the second half, right arm slung in his shirt.

“Scotland did a job on us in 2017 and they almost did it again in the second half,” Wales captain Jones told the BBC. “We started well but we definitely didn’t win that second period. We couldn’t get the ball back and gave them easy penalties and we just didn’t get out.

“We feel like we are improving game by game but it was more of a defensive performance today. We will make sure we enjoy each other’s company tonight and then we start again when we go back to Cardiff tomorrow.”

Wales are on track to win a first grand slam since 2012 after they turned over England on February 23 with a 21-13 win in Cardiff.

Scotland meanwhile face the prospect of ending a disappointing campaign with a solitary win unless they can inflict a shock defeat against England in their final fixture.

“We’re obviously massively disappointed with that,” Scotland captain Stuart McInally said, in an interview with the BBC. “We had a chance to win the game and weren’t quite accurate enough.

"We got a massive lift when Darcy Graham scored but they’re an excellent side and they’ve got a great defence. We just couldn’t break it down on this occasion.”