Guinness Six Nations 2023 Rugby Coverage

Sublime Russell Leads Scotland To Guinness Six Nations Victory Over Wales

Sublime Russell Leads Scotland To Guinness Six Nations Victory Over Wales

Wales defeated Scotland in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, marking the first defeat of Warren Gatland at the hands of the Scottish.

Feb 12, 2023 by RugbyPass
Sublime Russell Leads Scotland To Guinness Six Nations Victory Over Wales

The curse is broken. 

Scotland has beaten Warren Gatland’s Wales in the Six Nations at the 12th time of asking, following a blistering display at Murrayfield. 

Few onlookers would have expected the 35-7 demolition job that developed, but for those fans who passionately sang ‘Flower of Scotland’ before kickoff, that surprise was a welcomed one.

Scotland has won its two opening Six Nations games for the first time since 1996. That in itself is an incredible stat, exposing the misgivings and disappointments of Scottish rugby over the past few decades. It’s been a long and bumpy road, populated with losses to Wales, but no more.

This Scotland appears tenacious, disciplined and clinical. In the face of a youthful Wales pack, Gregor Townsend’s men fronted up and made their opponents work for every inch. 

Against England last week the Scottish defense was resolute, and opposite Wales, it was impenetrable. As much as the men in red tried, they failed to conjure up steady phases and consistent meters gained.

For all tackling and jackaling, this was Finn Russell’s game. 

Over the past week all the talk has been of Duhan van der Merwe’s startling double at Twickenham, and rightfully so. The tries were impeccably finished and showcased the brute force and dexterity of the blonde behemoth.

He again was causing all sorts of problems for the Welsh, but their attention was not solely on him. They were transfixed by the opposing fly-half pulling the strings.

Following a rugged first half, which ended 13-7 in favor of Scotland, thanks to a powerful finish from George Turner and two penalties from Russell, the hosts kicked into gear.

It took a moment of sheer brilliance to blow the game open, and it came from the talismanic halfback. 

With possession deep in the Wales 22, Ben White distributed to Russell, who feigned a pass, before charging towards a gap. As two tacklers scrambled to stop him, Russell outstretched his right hand and unleashed a delicious out-the-back offload to Kyle Steyn, who scored in the corner.

Seven minutes later, with Wales a man short, the duo combined once again as Russell delivered a pin-point cross-field kick to an open Steyn.

The Racing playmaker later was at the heart of Scotland’s bonus-point score, collecting a perfectly timed pull-back pass from Sione Tuipulotu, before dinking the ball into the hands of van der Merwe, who ate up yards and offloaded to Blair Kinghorn to score.

The party was already underway at Murrayfield, as beer spilled and chants rang around the stadium. But before all the bedlam subsided, fans were gifted one final present, as Russell flung an audacious miss-pass to set up Matt Fagerson in the corner.

It was Scotland’s fifth try of the afternoon and the fourth to be engineered by Russell. It meant the fly-half became the first Scotland player to register a hat-trick of assists in the Six Nations, deservedly earning the player of the match accolade for his efforts.

“I was just doing my job out there, making the other boys look good," Russell humbly said after the game. "The continuity in the squad allowed us to attack like we did."

Under newly appointed captain Jamie Richie’s wing, Scotland slowly is becoming a team to be reckoned with. Against England, and now Wales, their attack was fluid and clinical. At times, it was impossible to defend.

While Russell was sensational, the team is not dependent upon his extraordinary skills. There are plenty of other players who can, and did, stand up to lead their country to victory.

The link between Huw Jones and Tuipulotu in the centers is an example of this, and the combination is fast becoming a partnership made in test-match heaven. Their complementary styles of play provide Russell with numerous points of attack, making for a real spectacle of rugby.

For Wales, it was a day to forget. 

The 35-7 score was the team's heaviest defeat to Scotland. It was their 11th loss in 14 matches, and they have now lost their first two Six Nations fixtures for the first time since 2007.

They return to the Principality on Feb. 25 to host England in what is fast becoming a must-win game for Gatland and his men.

“We are in a little bit of a hole at the moment, and it's how we fight our way out of it,” Gatland said. “It's about being tight as a group and honest and critical of the things we know we can fix up. We just have to do it pretty quickly.”

They were forced to watch on as Richie led a sea of blue shirts to receive the Doddie Weir trophy.

“It wasn't perfect, but we did enough to get the job done," Richie said after the game. "We have belief that if we play to our best, we can beat any team. We have got a lot more in us, and we will be looking to improve when we go to Paris.”

Scotland will travel to Paris for their next Six Nations clash against France in a fortnight.

And whisper it, Scotland is, along with Ireland, the only side left in the Six Nations with a shot of winning a Grand Slam. They’re in-form and stand every chance of reigning on the French parade.  

Written by Stefan Frost