venue: Brewery Field, Bridgend
16th October 2005
Full Match Report
2005 EUROPEAN CUP GROUP 1
In a closely fought encounter at the Brewery Field, Bridgend, a crowd of over a thousand saw Wales narrowly overcome a strong Scotland side. Wales had never beaten Scotland at senior level before this match and it was poor kicking that almost cost them a win this time, failing to convert any of their five tries. Wales controlled the opening passage of the game. Sheffield's Aled James could have been the first to score but knocked on following an excellent move involving Anthony Blackwood, Phil Joseph and Richard Johnson.
The Dragons' pressure finally paid off in the tenth minute. Wales skipper, Lee Briers saw the space and kicked accurately over the Scotland defence. The kick was latched on by Bryn Powell who easily ran the ball over the line. Wales could have increased their lead just three minutes later. Briers was tackled metres short of the line and from the resulting play-the-ball, Manly's Mark Lennon knocked-on. Briers and Powell repeated their earlier feat in the 19th minute, Powell catching a trickier kick and grounding in the corner to make the score 8-0.
Scotland got on the board on the 24th minute from their first real attack. Iain Marsh was tackled following a 40-metre run from the Batley second-row forward. From the resulting play-the-ball, Hull FC's Danny Brough broke free of the defence to ground under the sticks. Gareth Morton converted. The try inspired the Scots and it was only down to a solid Welsh defence that they failed to get another point on the board before half-time. Ben Fisher came close but his attempted lay-off to Brough was picked up by Damien Gibson. Brough came close to creating a chance himself but there was no-one in the box able to catch his speculative grubber kick.
Scotland started the brighter in the second-half and were unlucky not to score after three minutes, Damien Gibson tackling his opposing full-back, Wade Liddell following a 60-metre run from the Gateshead star. However a Gareth Morton penalty kick just two minutes later opened the Scots' second half account and levelled the scores. Scotland kept up the pressure but against the run of play, Wales regained the lead on 55 minutes. Adam Hughes, who had only passed a fitness test on his hand that morning enabling him to play in this tie, intercepted a Danny Brough kick on the fifth tackle and ran 90 metres to ground. Lennon missed the conversion leaving the score at 12-8 to Wales.
Jordan James, who had helped Castleford to promotion back to Super League the previous week, was next on the board for Wales, forcing the ball over the line despite Wade Liddell clinging on tight to him as he dived for the whitewash. Once again, Lennon missed the kick. Danny Brough got his and Scotland's second try of the game from their first attack following the restart, grounding in the corner. Morton was once again successful with the tricky conversion and despite having half the amount of tries on the board than the Welsh, Scotland were just two points behind.
Wales finally did kick a successful goal as Lennon put over a penalty with ten minutes to go. Gareth Morton, who had kicked so well during the game, thought he had scored the winning try with just three minutes left on the clock, but his 60-metre break to the try-line was halted by the touch-judge, who had run on the pitch to point out an infringement to referee Thierry Albert. But it was Wales who wrapped up a hard-fought win as Lee Briers ran over to score in the last second of the match, giving the Dragons their first senior win in two years.
"The spirit of the side has been second to none this week," said Briers. "We've only been together for a few days making this win all the more remarkable. We lapsed in concentration at times but got back into it when it counted. I think we're good enough to win this competition. We're now looking forward to getting stuck into Ireland in two weeks time."
Scotland coach, Steve McCormack was obviously disappointed by the outcome of the match. "I think it was a very even match and we can consider ourselves unlucky as they scored tries from two kicks and an interception. However, we lacked composure in final third which is what cost us. I'm disappointed by the decision by the touch-judge near the end but we've got take it on the chin and work hard and get ready for the Ireland game next week. We've got a real hard working proud bunch of players and coaching staff and I can't knock the players' efforts. We've got to win next week against Ireland to stay in it - that's our only goal now."
Damien Gibson, Bryn Powell, Adam Hughes, Aled James Richard Johnson, Lee Briers, Mark Lennon, David Mills, Ian Watson, Gareth Dean, Anthony Blackwood, Jordan James, Phil Joseph. Subs (all used): Karl Hocking, Byron Smith, John Breakingbury, Neil Davies
Wade Liddell, Jon Steele, Dougie Flockhart, Gareth Morton, Andy McPhail, David McConnell, Danny Brough, Oliver Wilkes, Andrew Henderson, Richard Fletcher, Iain Marsh, Alex Szotack, Mike Wainwright. Subs (all used): Ben Fisher Andy Brown Ian Sinfield Nick Surtees