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Wales ends Six Nations journey with blowout of Scotland

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The Canadian Press
3/15/2014 12:46:39 PM
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CARDIFF -- Wales cut loose after a first-half red card to Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg to cruise to a seven-try 51-3 win at Millennium Stadium, ending the deposed champions' patchy Six Nations campaign in style on Saturday.

George North and Jamie Roberts helped themselves to two tries each in a record Welsh victory over Scotland, which was never in doubt from the moment Hogg was sent off for a late hit on flyhalf Dan Biggar in the 23rd minute when the score was 10-3.

Liam Williams and Taulupe Faletau added further scores to put Wales 39-3 ahead by the 48th minute before the Scots stemmed the tide, conceding just one more try to Rhodri Williams late on. Biggar kicked 14 points.

Wales, which started out seeking to win an unprecedented third straight title outright, finished on six points -- with its three victories all coming at home -- and in third place in the standings.

Scott Johnson, taking charge of his final match as Scotland coach before being replaced by Vern Cotter this summer, endured a miserable return to Wales -- the country with whom his international coaching career began 12 years ago.

It was never going to be a winning end for Johnson from the time Hogg was dismissed, the British Lions tourist leading with his left shoulder and elbow to smash into the face of Biggar. It was a rash challenge, especially since Scotland was under no pressure and Biggar was kicking an up-and-under inside his own half.

"I have let people down," Hogg said in a statement. "I have said sorry in person to Dan Biggar. I always try to play hard and fair and what happened today was out of character for me."

French referee Jerome Garces initially gave a yellow card to Hogg but changed his mind after seeing a replay on the big screen inside Millennium Stadium. Garces trotted over to the touchline and brandished the red card, with Hogg already off the pitch and getting ready for 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

The Welsh had a deserved lead at the time, thanks to fullback Liam Williams' left-wing try and a conversion and penalty by Biggar, and were starting to assert their dominance. After that, it was a case of how big the margin of victory would be.

Given how the match panned out, it wasn't the ideal platform to assess the performance of a new-look Wales team that featured six changes to the one that started the 29-18 loss to England last weekend.

What was not in doubt, however, was the quality of the tries in what, by halftime, turned into an indoor party under the roof.

Scores by North and Roberts in the final six minutes of the first half started from the halfway line and were both down the left channel, with debutant Scottish wing Dougie Fife hopelessly outnumbered.

North's second try, less than a minute after the interval, also came down the left as Jonathan Davies sent the hulking winger scampering along the touchline past the beleaguered Fife.

The best try of the afternoon belonged to Roberts, who finished off a length-of-the-field move that had its origins from an overthrown lineout by Scotland near Wales' line. Williams sprinted 50 metres and the ball went through the hands of Davies and Faletau before Roberts arrived late to crash over.

With the score 39-3, the Welsh were already way past their previous biggest margin of victory over the Scots -- 24 points in a 46-22 win in Cardiff in 2005 -- and there was still 32 minutes left.

However, the hosts crossed only once more to hit the half century.

Scotland finished in fifth place with one win, against bottom-place Italy.

Stuart Hogg (Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)
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