EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Wales profited from a red card for the second straight weekend in the Six Nations to beat Scotland 25-24 for a second win to open the championship on Saturday.
The Welsh were trailing 17-15 in the 54th minute when Scotland prop Zander Fagerson came crashing into a ruck and smashed into the face of Wales prop Wyn Jones, who was attempting to rip the ball away.
It was a similar incident to the one that led to Peter O’Mahony’s 14th-minute red card for Ireland in its 21-16 loss to Wales last week, and the same fate befell Fagerson after multiple video reviews.
Jones recovered his senses to barge over for a try a minute later. And although captain Stuart Hogg reclaimed the lead for the battling Scots with his second try of the game, a 70th-minute try from Louis Rees-Zammit — also his second — after running onto his own chip ahead ultimately clinched victory for Wales.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend did not think it was a clear red card, with Jones in the process of lifting up his head when Fagerson came flying into the ruck, shoulder-first.
“I’m more just questioning the process to see a replay of the red card,” Townsend. “Obviously if he did touch the head, I thought he got under and clear of the head. The TMO hinted there was late movement.”
Seeking to build on a first win over England at Twickenham in 38 years, Scotland came out fast at a below-freezing Murrayfield and overwhelmed the visitors in the opening half-hour, taking a 17-3 lead thanks to converted tries by Darcy Graham — his eighth in 16 tests — after running onto a chip behind the defense from scrumhalf Ali Price and then Hogg, who kicked forward and pounced on a loose ball after it was spilled by retreating Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny.
Rees-Zammit and Liam Williams replied with tries either side of halftime for Wales, which is a surprise early leader of the tournament — albeit because the team is benefitting from indiscipline by its rivals. There have been only 10 red cards in 21 years of the Six Nations, and two of them have come in the space of a week.
“We are improving each week in certain areas of the game and we showed a lot of character today,” Wales coach Wayne Pivac said. “We cannot get carried away with this, though. We need to build on it.”
Pivac was under pressure coming into the Six Nations after just three wins — against Italy, twice, and Georgia — from his first 10 games in charge since replacing Warren Gatland.
Now, a victory over England in Round 3 in two weeks would set up the Welsh for a second title in three years.
“We’re pleased with the character,” Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones said, “but, for large parts, we were disappointed with how we played.”
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