Two tries from Half-Maltese winger Louis Rees-Zammit inspired Wales to their second successive win in the Six Nations as they defeated 14-man Scotland 25-24 in a thrilling encounter at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Scotland prop Zander Fagerson was shown a straight red by English referee Matthew Carley in the second half.
It was the second consecutive match where the Welsh beat a team reduced to 14 players, having overcome Ireland last Sunday when Peter O’Mahony was sent off.
“I thought we were excellent in large parts of that game,” said a disappointed Scotland captain Stuart Hogg.
“Wales were outstanding, they took their opportunitites but we gave them to them.”
Wales, who scored four tries to pick up a bonus point, will next play England while the Scots face France in two weeks.
Leigh Halfpenny put the Welsh 3-0 up early on—Chris Harris straying offside—but Finn Russell levelled it in the 11th minute.
The Scots produced the first bit of fluent attacking play as the clock ticked towards the 20th minute.
Jonny Gray scythed through the Welsh defence and when the ball worked its way back to Alli Price, the Scottish scrum-half produced a moment of magic.
He looked up and chipped the ball over the Welsh defence with Darcy Graham running on to catch it and go over for his eighth try in 16th tests.
Russell converted for 10-3.
The hosts put clear blue water between themselves and Wales with 25 minutes on the clock.
Hogg kicked ahead, Halfpenny spilled the ball and the Scotland captain ran on to collect the loose ball and touch down.
Hogg’s 21st try in his 82nd Test was crisply converted by Russell for 17-3.
Willis Haloholo replaced Halfpenny for his debut after the full-back went off for a Head Injury Assessment as a result of a collision with Graham.
Halfpenny did not return but Wales continued to pressure the Scots and were rewarded just before half-time when Rees-Zammit shimmied inside Duhan van der Merwe to touch down to add to his try against Ireland.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying it,” said a delighted Rees-Zammit after the game.
“The whole team have helped me settle in and I’m loving playing on this sort of stage.”
Dan Biggar sent his conversion wide to leave the Scots 17-8 ahead at the break.
The Scots parked in the Welsh 22 for the opening 10 minutes of the second-half and went over for a third try but it was not given due to crossing.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac, though, decided he needed to take action at half-back sending on Callum Sheedy for Biggar and Kieran Hardy replacing Gareth Davies.
Sheedy had an immediate impact playing a pivotal role in Liam Williams going over for a try—Rees-Zammit delivering the final pass. Sheedy converted for 17-15.
Things got considerably worse for Scotland when Fagerson was sent off after charging in and connecting with Alun Wyn Jones’s head.
Carley stuck to his initial feeling although Television Match Official Karl Dickson intimated there might be mitigating factors.
“It’s pointless me whinging about the red card, what’s done is done,” said Hogg.
Jones had a memorable few minutes as he then bundled over to touch down but Sheedy missed the conversion to leave Wales 20-17 ahead.
The Scots did not look like a side reduced to 14 men pressuring the Welsh in the scrum and on two occasions were confident enough to opt for scrums when awarded penalties in front of the posts.
The pressure paid off as Hogg broke Owen Watkins’ tackle and carried Nick Tompkins over to touch down in the corner.
Russell converted superbly from the touchline to put Scotland 24-20 ahead and 15 minutes remaining.
The thrilling encounter swung back Wales’s way with a moment of individual brilliance from Rees-Zammit.
The 20-year-old kicked ahead and then outsprinted two Scottish defenders to touch down—Sheedy again failed to convert to leave Wales just a point to the good 25-24.
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