Mon, Feb 28, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Wales, Scotland finish day victorious

RUGBY INTERNATIONALS Wales, which trailed 15-3 after 20 minutes, has won its opening three matches in Six Nations action, as Scotland recovered to defeat Italy

AP , LONDONAP, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

Scotland's Ally Hogg is tackled by Italy's Andrea Masi during their Six Nations match at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland on Saturday. Scotland beat Italy 18-10.

PHOTO: AFP

Wales stayed on course to its first Six Nations title since 1994 by rallying to a 24-18 win over France on Saturday, while Scotland ended its losing run and virtually condemned Italy to last place.

Wales flanker Martin Williams scored two second-half tries in Saint-Denis as defending champion France lost in the Six Nations for the first time since March 2003.

"Two years ago in the Six Nations, Wales did not win a single game -- and we have worked hard since then and are a very happy camp at the moment," Wales flyhalf Stephen Jones said.

In Scotland, Chris Paterson scored all the points off his boot in an 18-10 win over Italy. A late Andrea Masi converted try couldn't make up for Italy missing two earlier penalties and a drop goal.

Italy is the only team to have lost its first three Six Nations matches.

England could join them -- it plays unbeaten favorite Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Sunday. England is unlikely to finish last as it should easily account for Italy at Twickenham on March 12.

Wales hosts Ireland on the final day of the tournament on March 19.

Wales last won the tournament when it was the Five Nations in 1994. Since then, France has won Grand Slams in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 1904.

"We can't talk about the Grand Slam," Wales coach Mike Ruddock said. "We have got Scotland next up. They had a good win against Italy today and they will throw everything at us. The pressure is on us to keep winning."

France scored two tries in the opening 12 minutes through scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili and winger Aurelien Rougerie, but Wales rallied strongly with Williams scoring twice in the opening five minutes of the second half against a nervy French defense.

Jones pulled it back to 12-3 with a 30m penalty in the 24th minute, but following a surging break by center Damien Traille, a Yachvili penalty pushed France ahead 15-3.

Jones notched a penalty on the stroke of halftime to make it 15-6. Wales went ahead 18-15 after Williams went over twice in the left corner. Jones converted one of the two.

Coach Bernard Laporte brought on Frederic Michalak and his drop goal drew France level in the 64th, but Jones slotted over another penalty and a drop goal to make it 24-18.

In Edinburgh, Paterson opened the scoring after four minutes. Strong Scottish defense halted Masi just short of the line, but Italy was given a penalty for offside. Roland de Marigny -- who had missed an earlier penalty -- easily converted to make it 3-3.

Paterson added a second penalty with 10 minutes left in the first half and slotted his fourth penalty after 55 minutes.

Scotland had a Sean Lamont try disallowed 10 minutes later, but extended its lead to 18-3 within the final 10 minutes with two more Paterson penalties.

Italy, hurt by Luciano Orquera's missed drop goal and penalty, chanced a try in virtually the last play of the game through Masi, and De Marigny converted to cut Scotland's lead to 18-10.

"We have come under a fair bit of criticism and the only way you can answer that as a coach is through the action of players," Scotland coach Matt Williams said of his side's first Six Nations win at Murrayfield since August 2003.

The ACT Brumbies started their Super 12 title defense with a costly 32-21 win over Canterbury, overcoming injuries to captain Stirling Mortlock and winger Clyde Rathbone in Saturday's rematch of the 2004 final.

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