Pity poor Alun Wyn Jones. A goliath of the game he may be, and this may have been a record-breaking match for the Welsh lock, whose 149th appearance surpassed the record set by Richie McCaw, but even such an historic footnote was not enough to rescue either a game bedevilled by the towsy conditions or to resuscitate Welsh fortunes.
If Wales' talisman was disappointed at how this stodgy, nervy game at an empty Parc y Scarlets turned out, those emotions will be mirrored in every corner of his home country. Wales continue to defend as if Shaun Edwards is in the stand, yet they offered little in attack and even less up front where Man of the Match Jamie Ritchie and openside Hamish Watson lorded it at the breakdown, with Scotland enjoying 70% of second half possession. Scotland were good value for their first win in Wales since 2002, and the only mystery is how the game was so close for so long.
This was Wales' fifth consecutive loss, the first time they have suffered such a run of defeats since before the Warren Gatland era. For an embattled Wayne Pivac, who has been trying to change Wales' style of play using his predecessor's team but with a hard core of veterans hanging on in the hope of one last Lions tour, these are dark times. Finishing fifth in the Six Nations was not part of his job remit, and with a break clause next year he must be feeling the heat. With every passing match he looks increasingly like David Moyes to Gatland's Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I'm very disappointed with the way we played, the result, and our work at the breakdown, where we gave away 11 penalties,” said Pivac. “It was a tough day at the office at the breakdown, but it didn't allow any flow for us, didn't allow us to get get into the game. We'll have to look at that because we must improve for the next game.
“If you want to play with speed and tempo but don't get the ball, you don't play a lot of rugby. This is my worst defeat [as Wales head coach] because of the performance. We didn't fire too many shots.”
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For Scotland, this win has been a long time coming. There have been so many false dawns, so many defeats snatched from the jaws of victory in Cardiff, that the over-riding sensation was clearly one of relief. This is also the first time that Scotland have won three successive Six Nations matches, with this win coming off the back of victories against Italy and France, followed by last week's thumping win over Georgia. A third place finish in the tournament is proof at last that they can convert promise into wins.
Perhaps just as importantly, Scotland won without relying on their prodigal son after Finn Russell hobbled off with barely a quarter of the match gone and could be out for an extended period, as might Adam Hastings, with Scotland ending the match with Stuart Hogg at stand-off. Scotland coach Gregor Townsend believes there is real strength in depth in his ranks and “lots” of potential Lions in his squad, and while it's true that this match was not affected by the potentially transformative presence of Wales supporters, Gatland cannot fall back on his twin mantra when it comes to the Lions – that the Scots are mentally fragile, that they cannot win away from home.
Although Wales led at half-time, it was Scotland who did all the early running and dominated this match, both in terms of possession and territory. From the start they showed the greater energy and intensity, and would have gone ahead in the second minute had Russell's touchline penalty into a swirling wind not been wide and short. It was, however, an early statement of intent on which the visitors soon made good with a ninth minute penalty.
Scotland should have registered their first try midway through the first half when an inside pass from Chris Harris on Wales' 22 put Stuart Hogg behind the Welsh defensive line, but when the Scotland skipper failed to draw Dan Biggar before passing back to Harris, the Welsh fly-half used his trailing arm to dislodge the ball and force a knock-on just as it looked as if Harris must score.
Scotland were to rue that profligacy when Wales scored a try against the run of play on the half hour. Taulupe Faletau had picked up a pass off his bootstraps on a rare foray into Scotland's half, the No.8 prodding a kick into Scotland's 22 for a lineout. Despite a viciously swirling wind making throwing-in to the lineout problematic for both sides, Fraser Brown overthrew to the back of the lineout, Ryan Elias pouncing to set up a succession of drives which ended with loosehead Rhys Carrie forcing his way over from close range.
From being in total command yet failing to turn their dominance into points, Scotland found themselves behind as Wales came away from their first visit to the visitors' 22 with seven points, although a Hastings penalty on the stroke of half-time left Wales leading 7-6 at the break.
The Scots dominated the second half and as the match entered the final quarter they finally made the match-winning breakthrough. When Scotland were awarded a kickable penalty and Hogg, who was once again in superb form, went for the corner, it seemed like an opportunity spurned. But Scotland scored three lineout drive tries against Georgia and this time they were unstoppable, Stuart McInally claiming the score.
Leigh Halfpenny drew Wales back to within a point, but Scotland were utterly rampant in the closing stages, and when Hogg was awarded a last-minute penalty in front of the posts, the 18-year wait for a win in Wales was finally over.
Townsend, however, was not getting carried away. “With no crowd here, it’s hard to recreate that feeling you get when you beat England at home [in 2018],” he said. “Nothing will come close to matching that just now, but when you see what it means to the players to finally get that win. They’re delighted and the millions of Scots watching at home, it will have lifted their spirits. But in the immediate aftermath, it probably doesn’t feel the same as a win with a full crowd.”
Wales: L Halfpenny; Liam Williams, J Davies, O Watkin (N Tompkins, 74), J Adams; D Biggar (R Patchell, 42), G Davies (Lloyd Williams, 71); R Carrie (W Jones, 48), R Elias (S Parry, 69), T Francis (D Lewis, 56-73), W Rowlands (C Hill, 60), AW Jones (capt), S Lewis-Hughes, J Davies, T Faletau (A Wainwright, 69).
Scotland: S Hogg (capt); D Graham (D van der Merwe. 66), C Harris, J Lang, B Kinghorn; F Russell (A Hastings, 31 (S Steele, 69)), A Price; R Sutherland (O Kebble, 53), F Brown (S McInally, 53), Z Fagerson (S Berghan, 53), S Cummings, J Gray, J Ritchie, H Watson, B Thomson (C du Preez, 60).
Referee: A Brace
Scorers: Pen Russell 0-3; try Carrie 5-3; con Biggar 7-3; pen Hastings 7-6; try McInally 7-11; pen Halfpenny 10-11; pen Hogg 10-14.