Shane Williams scored the late try that led Wales to a dramatic victory at the Millennium Stadium yesterday.
Scotland made to pay for their sins
Shane Williams scored the late try that led Wales to a dramatic victory at the Millennium Stadium yesterday, then said the buzz from the win would reinvigorate his side's Six Nations campaign. The try completed a late turnaround for the home side, who levelled the match at 24-24 seconds before the 80 minute mark. They then went on to punish the visitors' lack of discipline - they had two players in the sin bin - to win the match 31-24 and cast aside memories of last week's loss to England.
"It was great to be a part of. If that can't turn us around I don't know what can," said Williams. "We know we didn't start well, the pressure was on us. The boys stuck in there right to the end, we did absolutely everything out there." The home side looked down and out when they trailed 24-14 with only three minutes of normal time left, but tries by Leigh Halfpenny and Williams - his 49th for Wales - clinched the astonishing win.
Scotland looked to have done enough to reduce Wales's title hopes, but they ended the game with 13 men after substitutes Scott Lawson and Phil Godman were sin binned. Dan Parks, the fly-half delivered a superb tactical kicking display that included two drop goals and a penalty double, while flanker John Barclay and substitute wing Max Evans scored first-half tries and Chris Paterson, winning his 100th cap - the first Scot to do so - slotted a conversion.
Wales, who had earlier claimed a Lee Byrne try, prevailed as fly-half Stephen Jones kicked 16 points, leaving Scotland crestfallen following two successive defeats. The Scots dominated but the home side completed what will go down as one of the sport's greatest comebacks. Paterson, who had received lengthy treatment for a knock to his shoulder, regained his feet in time to see Barclay push through the combined defence of James Hook and Gareth Cooper. .
Paterson added the conversion and Wales had few complaints. It got worse for the home side despite Jones opening their account with a 15th-minute penalty. They were disorganised in defence and Scotland took advantage with a second try after Parks played the role of creator. His kick behind the Welsh defence saw Max Evans - on the field as a replacement for his brother Thom - react quickest and ground just before the dead-ball line.
Parks cancelled out Jones's second penalty for an 18-6 advantage, and Paterson departed the action with Evans returning as a permanent substitute. It was a sad way for Paterson's afternoon to end, which saw him end up in hospital with an abdominal problem. Wales pressed in search of a try, but the game was held up when wing Thom Evans suffered a serious-looking back injury following a shuddering midfield collision with Byrne. He was expected to be kept in hospital last night, with coach Andy Robinson describing the problem as serious.
"His parents are with him, I can't say any more and we've just got to wait and see," he said. "Part of it is that it takes time to settle, but our thoughts are with him." Wales piled on the pressure as half-time approached, but their game continued to be spiked by basic handling errors prior to Jones slotting a third penalty. Scotland were good value for their 18-9 interval advantage. Wales coach Warren Gatland then made a triple substitution early in the second half, sending on lock Bradley Davies, prop Gethin Jenkins and hooker Huw Bennett as Wales looked to lift the tempo. It had the desired effect as Williams's arcing run and superb pass allowed Byrne to cross in the corner, cutting Wales's deficit to seven points with 24 minutes left.
Parks booted a second drop goal, before Lawson was sin binned and Halfpenny's late try, converted by Jones, set up a nervous finale as Jones drew Wales level with a penalty. Then Williams struck during the game's final passage of play and mayhem broke out around the ground. Parks, the game's dominant figure, felt his side would have held on had they had all 15 players on the pitch at the final whistle. "There's no justice, it breaks your heart and it's unreal," he said. "The referee makes the decisions, we did so much hard work and it just gets taken away."
* With agencies