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Wales’ decision to hand its dozen women top professional contracts earlier this year is already paying off. Following their resounding victory in Dublin last weekend, Siwan Lillicrap’s rejuvenated side moved into second place in the Six Nations table with a breath-taking victory at Cardiff Arms Park against a Scottish side who simply refused to back down. Wales know the real test awaits them when they face England at Kingsholm next Saturday, but a first Six Nations home win in three years proves the revolution is on.

Substitute scrum-half Ffion Lewis settled the game in the dying minutes and Lillicrap and Alisha Butchers were outstanding in the back row as Wales recovered from a grueling first half in which they were forced on the back foot against opponents humiliated by England a week earlier.

Scotland were the better side in the first half when indiscipline Welsh threatened to hand them an unexpected victory in front of the biggest crowd to watch a women’s game in the Principality. Wales must have made over a hundred tackles in a scorching first 40 minutes and at the end the main emotion was relief.

Scotland drew blood when hooker Lana Skeldon celebrated her 50th cap by digging the line after Sarah Bonar won a lineout. All the early pressure came from the visitors, who were playing with a lot of ambition. Wales struggled for possession and territory in the first quarter but eventually gained a foothold in the game. Hooker Carys Phillips slammed his way in after a push from a lineout.

Scotland were playing most of the rugby and after a phased move, scrum-half Jenny Maxwell hoisted a hopeful kick into the corner and Rhona Lloyd capitalized on a wicked rebound to edge past two defenders for Scotland’s second try. The visitors smashed a chance for a third down when they dismissed a three-woman overlap but Wales went on to concede penalty after penalty and the first half ended with Kerin Lake receiving a yellow card from referee Joy Neville for flopping the ball to prevent a quick release. by the Scottish pack.

A short player, things quickly got worse for Wales after the break when Lloyd dove into the corner for his second try. But the reaction from Wales was instantaneous. Substitute Sioned Harries, on the pitch for only a few minutes, emerged from under a pile of bodies to claim the try and Wales were back in the game.

Scotland, again facing 15 opponents, began to make mistakes as Wales increased the pressure. The Welsh Pack began to dominate and Scotland prop Leah Bartlett was shown a yellow card for collapsing the fourth in a series of scrums. Wales kicked on touchdown and from the line-out substitution Kelsey Jones was sent off to level the scores.

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Five minutes remained on the clock when Butchers broke his back from a scrum to give Lewis the chance to run in the winning try. Even then, Scotland refused to fold. The game ended with them on the Wales line and Lillicrap had a bit of a chance to stay on the pitch when his left hand flailed over a Scottish pass.

Wales hung on. These two sides will face off in their World Cup group later this year and Wales won’t take Scotland lightly.

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