Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
It was a disappointing day for the Dragons who were expected to field Iestyn Harris for the first time in six years. But just before the game the Welsh Rugby League announced that Iestyn Harris had failed a fitness test and wouldn?t be playing. Harris had undergone keyhole surgery on his knee before going on holiday two weeks ago and, with the rest he was getting, had expected all to be well for the game. However, the injury flared up while on holiday and was declared unfit to play.
Scotland stamped their dominance on the game from the beginning. They had an early chance when Mike Nanyn laid off to Jamie Benn who dived for the line but was brilliantly tackled into touch by Bryn Powell.
But they deservedly took the lead on eight minutes with a fine move in front of the sticks. Ian Henderson laid off to Gareth Morton who weaved through the backline, handed off to Wade Liddell who grounded. Morton converted.
Mark Lennon tried to get through the Scottish defence on the fifth tackle but was stopped metres from the line.
But Wales pulled a try back on 16 minutes. From Lee Briers grubber, Richard Johnson, playing his first game in over three months after recovering from a broken arm, pounced to ground in the corner. Briers missed the difficult conversion attempt.
Johnson looked to have had a second on 23 minutes but Damien Gibson?s pass to him out on the wing was adjudged to have been forward.
Lennon desperately tried to get on the scoresheet as he attempted another run through but was brilliantly tackled by David McConnell causing him to lose the ball.
But Wales took the lead in the 32nd minute when Adam Hughes scored in the corner following fine work from Briers and Robert Roberts. Briers did well to successfully convert from the touchline.
It was 14-6 straight from kick-off. Johnson created the chance and Briers brilliantly dodged through to score, but missed a far easier chance to extend Wales? lead as he failed to add the extras.
Scotland came out firing on all cylinders after the interval and scored two quick tries.
The first was an excellent individual effort from Brough that came after just 70 seconds, while Jamie Benn, the match-winner for Featherstone Rovers against Celtic Crusaders earlier this season, added another four minutes later as he pounced on a Henderson grubber. Mick Nanyn missed both conversions so the scores were level at 14-14.
Both teams fought hard to take the lead. Anthony Blackwood sprinted 30 metres to tackle Jon Steel in his own area, and from the set on the restart, Liddell made try-saving tackle on Phil Joseph following an excellent run from Halifax?s latest acquisition.
Scotland were so close to scoring on regaining the ball. Brough, playing an excellent game, despite the sinbinning, laid off to Spencer Miller who was tackled by Lennon as he was centimetres from the line. Miller swung his body over to ground but referee Steve Ganson declared it a double movement and gave Wales the penalty.
Scotland regained their lead on 67 minutes. Brough created the try, laying the ball off to Lowe who in turn passed to Nanyn who ran it though and converted it himself.
Scotland coach Steve McCormack was understandably delighted at the win commenting: ?We addressed a few discipline issues at half-time and came out well. It was a fantastic second-half performance and being away in Wales against a team Wales have got, it was an excellent performance from everyone concerned.?
Scotland 21 (Tries: Liddell, Brough, Benn, Nanyn, Goals: Morton, Nanyn, Field goal: Brough) defeated Wales 14 (Tries: Johnson, Hughes, Briers, Goals: Briers). Referee: Steve Ganson (St Helens). Attendance: 2,378.
Wales 1. Damien Gibson - Halifax RLFC 2. Bryn Powell - Dewsbury Rams 3. Adam Hughes - Widnes Vikings 4. Anthony Blackwood - Celtic Crusaders 5. Richard Johnson - Celtic Crusaders 6. Lee Briers - Warrington Wolves (capt) 7. Mark Lennon - Manly Sea Eagles 8. David Mills - Harlequins RL 9. Ian Watson - Widnes Vikings 10. Hywel Davies - Celtic Crusaders 11. Chris Morley - Swinton Lions 12. Robert Roberts - Leigh Centurions 13. Phil Joseph - Hull Kingston Rovers 14. Gary Hulse - Widnes Vikings 15. Jordan James - Widnes Vikings 16. Gareth Price - Celtic Crusaders 17. Gareth Dean - Celtic Crusaders
Scotland 1. Wade Liddell ? Gateshead Thunder 2. Jon Steel ? Hull Kingston Rovers 3. Mick Nanyn ? Widnes Vikings 4. Iain Marsh ? Batley Bulldogs 5. Jamie Benn ? Featherstone Rovers 6. Ian Henderson - Bradford Bulls 7. Danny Brough - Castleford Tigers 8. Paul Jackson ? Huddersfield Giants 9. Ben Fisher ? Hull Kingston Rovers 10. Neil Lowe ? Doncaster Lakers 11. Spencer Miller ? Whitehaven 12. Gareth Morton - Hull KR 13. David McConnell ? Rochdale Hornets 14. Ian Sinfield - Swinton Lions 15. Richard Fletcher - Castleford Tigers 16. Keir Bell ? London Skolars 17. Dene Miller ? St Albans Centurions