Scotland secured their first victory on Welsh soil for 18 years with a hard-fought 14-10 at Parc y Scarlets to condemn Wales to a 14-10 defeat that spoilt Alun Wyn Jones’s record-breaking day.
The Wales captain made his 149th international appearance to break former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw’s all-time record, but not even the talismanic lock could do anything to upset a dogged defensive display from Scotland’s back row that paved the way to victory.
Scotland took an early lead through a Finn Russell penalty but the swirling wind in Llanelli made things extremely difficult both at the lineout and in the air, resulting in several mistakes and disjointed game.
It would prove a day for the forwards as Wales prop Rhys Carre scored his first international try to put Wales in front, unsurprisingly from a lineout error, but a penalty from Russell’s replacement Adam Hasting on the stroke of half-time cut the deficit to one.
With the wind now at their backs, it was Scotland’s turn to rely on forward power as an unstoppable rolling maul splintered the Welsh defense to allow Stuart McInally to score, and though Hastings missed the conversion Scotland had a four-point advantage.
It was quickly cut to one by a Leigh Halfpenny penalty, but Scotland closed out the game with a final Stuart Hogg effort at goal that ended the game and sealed their first away win in the Six Nations since 2010.
So who were the standout players?
Leigh Halfpenny - 7
Took one stand-out catch in the first half and another in the second half, and also made a half-break that stood out. Won a penalty with an outstanding jackal that he duly kicked.
Liam Williams - 6
Scotland kept him out of the game in the first half, but he displayed his talent with a moment of magic as he intercepted Hastings before following up seconds later with a delightful take from an up-and-under. Wales would have wanted to make more of him out wide though.
Jonathan Davies - 6
Used as a reliable runner to get Wales out of danger, but it meant he wasn’t afforded much possession in space and it caught him out at the death as a spilt ball gave Scotland the final penalty to round out the match.
Owen Watkin - 6
Had a couple of nice nudges in behind and ran well as the crashball man but saw no linebreaks.
Josh Adams - 5
One break of note in the first half as he made good yards before finding Gareth Davies on his shoulder but a very quiet day from one of the players of the tournament.
Dan Biggar - 5
Saw his opposite number depart with injury before half-time and he followed not long after early in the second half with a back issue. Utilised the wind in the first half with some excellent kicking for touch, but little of note elsewhere.
Gareth Davies - 6
Just about shaded Ali Price with his kicking from the ruck, and tried to spark attacks where he could. Scotland did a good job of keeping him in check though.
Rhys Carre - 6
Guilty of being penalised for the first scrum penalty, but came up trumps later in the first half by scoring the opening try from close range. His departure saw Wales’s scrum step up as Wyn Jones brought good energy to the game.
Ryan Elias - 5
Could not get a grasp on the swirling wind as he struggled immensely with the lineout. Conceded a penalty when he was caught taking possession in an offside position, and Wales really missed Ken Owens. He at least put in a very good shift in defence.
Tomas Francis - 6
Solid in the scrum and didn’t do too much wrong. Replaced by Dillon Lewis in the second half, only to be needed again eight minutes from time due to injury.
Will Rowlands - 5
Didn’t do a lot of note beyond conceding a penalty when Wales were on the attack as he went off his feet to seal off Francis.
Alun Wyn Jones - 6
Conceded an early penalty for a dangerous tackle on Hamish Watson, but from that point on didn’t really put a foot wrong as he got through a big load of carrying.
Shane Lewis-Hughes - 6
Impressed in defence on his debut with a cracking 22 tackles, although he crossed the line early on in getting penalised for not rolling away fast enough that gave Russell a shot at goal.
James Davies - 6
Showed glimpses of being able to challenge at the breakdown, but pinged for coming in at the side that conceded three points and outplayed comprehensively by his opposite man.
Taulupe Faletau - 7
Brilliant pick-up off his toes was followed by a surprising chip to touch that laid the platform for the opening try. One of Wales’s more standout performers, which made it all the more strange when he departed midway through the second half.
Stuart Hogg - 7
Smart thinking nearly put Harris in for a try, but struggled with his kicking early on. Forced to move to fly-half following injuries to Russell and Hastings, but didn’t put a foot wrong and fittingly kicked the final penalty to secure victory for his side.
Darcy Graham - 6
One excellent take in the swirling wind early and stood up to the aerial test.
Chris Harris - 5
Guilty of not keeping his hands up to expect Hogg’s creative one-two that could have put him away for an early try. Ran with power that helped in the gainline battle.
James Lang - 5
Very quiet throughout as Scotland utilised their forward pack, with the ball rarely making it out to his hands.
Blair Kinghorn - 6
Realised he’d need to work off his wing to find the ball and it produced a first-half line-break that nearly produced a try before Harris’s error. Switched to full-back in the second-half rejig.
Finn Russell - 5
His return to international rugby fell flat as he did little of note beyond missing a kick at goal and landing his second penalty effort before a groin injury forced him off. Could be a real miss for the Autumn Nations Cup if it’s serious.
Ali Price - 7
Looked alive and alert, particularly as legs tired around him, with his tactical kicking for touch in the final quarter excellent to keep Wales pinned back and under pressure.
Rory Sutherland - 7
Very strong in the scrum that allowed Zander Fagerson to go to work on the other side.
Fraser Brown - 6
Struggled in the lineout in the conditions though Scotland’s calling did him no favours. His overthrow to the tail set up Carre’s opening try, and he also conceded a stupid penalty in the second half for blocking Liam Williams that saw him injure his ankle that eventually ended his afternoon. Replacement Stuart McInally came on to score the match-winning try.
Zander Fagerson - 8
Won an early penalty for Scotland in the scrum, but got it handed back to him by Wyn Jones when the replacement came on. However, his carrying stood out and defensively he hit double figures with his tackles.
Scott Cummings - 6
Struggled in the lineout as he couldn’t time his jump right, but reliable in most other areas bar one missed tackle.
Jonny Gray - 7
Took the decisive lineout that led to Scotland’s try and didn’t miss a tackle - but you already knew that, didn’t you?
Jamie Ritchie - 8
Won a penalty under pressure inside Scotland’s 22 that was crucial in defence, and proved the main thorn in Wales’s backside as he wreaked havoc with Watson. Secured the final penalty to put the cherry on the cake.
Hamish Watson - 8
Combined with Watson to dominate the breakdown - the few of them that there were in the first half - as the flankers dovetailed superbly.
Blade Thomson - 7
Outshone by his back-row partners but didn’t do too much wrong, and carried when when he had the ball in hand.