Scotland 24 Wales 25
Wales boss Wayne Pivac has praised “a lot of work from a lot of people” after his charges set themselves up for a Triple Crown tilt in the Six Nations.
Wales suffered six successive defeats under Pivac last year, suggesting there was little chance of starting this campaign with victories over Ireland and Scotland.
But that is exactly what has been delivered, and England in Cardiff on Saturday week now stand between Wales and landing the first major silverware of Pivac’s coaching reign.
A tense triumph against Ireland was followed by another nerve-shredding experience at Murrayfield, where wing sensation Louis Rees-Zammit’s try double underpinned Wales’ 17th win from the last 20 Tests at Scotland’s expense.
While the Scots were left to reflect on Zander Fagerson’s sending-off and seeing a 17-3 lead wiped out, Wales could reflect on their first away win under Pivac, complete with a try bonus point.
“What we did in the Autumn Nations Cup is well-documented, with a view to the World Cup and building some depth,” Pivac said. “With the side that we put out (against Scotland), we had to call on some depth at number six and in the midfield. Everybody put their hand up when they needed to.
“The senior players are leading very well. It is a lot of work from a lot of people, it’s not just down to one or two individuals. It’s a real squad effort, and I am pleased. There is a long way to go, but we are certainly happy to have those nine points.”
Wales have a healthy 70 per cent success rate against England across the last 10 Tests in Cardiff. And after being without a quarter of his original 36-man squad through injuries or suspension for the Edinburgh trip, Pivac could welcome back some big names.
Wing Josh Adams, top try-scorer at the 2019 World Cup, is available again after serving a two-match ban for breaching Covid-19 protocols, while Lions backs George North (foot) and Jonathan Davies (ankle) are among those aiming to prove their fitness. But full-back Leigh Halfpenny, whose career has been hit by concussion issues, failed a head injury assessment at Murrayfield following a collision with Darcy Graham.
Looking ahead to England, Pivac added: “We’ve got a week off, but we will still be in work and reviewing the performance, looking at the areas of our game that we need to attend to.
Rees-Zammit is sure to be centre of the build-up to England’s Cardiff visit. The 20-year-old Gloucester speedster has scored four tries in his first six Tests, and is arguably Wales’ most exciting newcomer since North arrived as a teenager and touched down twice on debut against South Africa in 2010.
Meanwhile, Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg has vowed there will be no repeat of the ill-discipline that cost his side dear. Gregor Townsend’s team conceded 11 penalties against the Welsh, in addition to Fagerson's red card for a dangerous ruck clear-out.
“Look, it’s little things that are costing us,” said Hogg. “But the pleasing thing is we know exactly where we’re going wrong – there’s been times in the past where we’ve made mistakes and keep making them, whereas now I believe that’s a one-off in our ill-discipline.”