LLANELLI, Wales (AP) — Wales slumped to a fifth-place finish in a disappointing defense of its Six Nations title after losing to Scotland 14-10 in an attritional battle in Llanelli on Saturday.
Replacement hooker Stuart McInally drove over at the base of a rolling maul in the 61st minute for what proved to be the clinching try for Scotland, consigning the Welsh to a fifth straight loss that marks a huge comedown since they won the Grand Slam in 2019 and reached the Rugby World Cup semifinals later in the year.
The latest defeat ratchets up the pressure on Wales coach Wayne Pivac, who replaced Warren Gatland after the World Cup in Japan.
“We’re excited by the group of players that we have and there’s a lot of good players coming through, putting pressure on,” said Pivac, who attempted to stay positive after another below-par performance.
“Certainly we have to put a line in the sand and look forward to the Autumn (Nations) Cup.”
A try by prop Rhys Carre — his first at international level — after Scotland overthrew a lineout gave Wales a 7-6 lead at halftime at Parc y Scarlets, which was hosting Wales for the first time in 17 years.
Penalties by flyhalf Finn Russell and the man who later replaced him because of an injury, Adam Hastings, either side of Carre’s try kept Scotland close to the Welsh and it was another penalty by captain Stuart Hogg with the final kick of the game that sealed a fourth straight win for the Scots.
They must wait to see where they finish in the standings after winning three of their five matches in the pandemic-extended championship.
Wales won only once, against perennial last-place finisher Italy.
It was a miserable way for Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones to mark becoming rugby’s most-capped test player. His 149th international match was played in an empty stadium because Wales is in the middle of a two-week lockdown due to a resurgence of the coronavirus.
“You could say we’ve had a six-month period between our last Six Nations game and this one, (but) there’s no excuse,” Jones said. “I said that last week — the easiest thing to do is to come out with excuses.
“I thought we were better in patches today but the form’s gotten away from us and it’s not good enough.”
The win was Scotland’s first in Wales since 2002 and built on its 48-7 victory over Georgia at Murrayfield last week. Gregor Townsend’s side had previously beaten Italy and France in the Six Nations.
“I was really pleased with the energy in the second half,” Townsend said. “We started the second half better, we had a bit more punch about our ball carrying.
“We weren’t getting the rewards but as the second half wore on we started to get the rewards around the set-pieces and around the carries. The bench had a big impact, so as a squad effort today I’m really proud.”
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