Warren Gatland's determination to make his Welsh players toe the line brought another success yesterday but I reckon that Shane Williams took him too literally.
The proximity of the winger's foot to the whitewash when he scored his crucial try in the 68th minute should have led to it being disallowed but the Television Match Official, Carlo DaMasco of Italy, thought otherwise. It was one of best non-tries I've ever seen but the brilliance Williams showed as he jinked outside Andy Henderson and Hugo Southwell on his way to the line will be of little consolation to the Scots.
They were only five points behind at that stage and can justly complain at being harshly treated but I don't think they had it in them to deflect Wales from the tremendous boost this second victory will give them. The Welsh win was thoroughly deserved. They gathered the lion's share of the possession and it was a much better and tidier performance than against England.
Scotland's problem is the absence of try opportunities. They hardly caused any trouble inside the Welsh 22 until the closing minutes, when their forwards made a desperate but futile attempt to bludgeon their way over. The Scots were just playing for pride by then and trying to prove that they have other means of scoring than via the faultless boot of Chris Paterson.
They will have to content themselves with the knowledge that they made Wales fight every inch of the way but I am afraid they were let down by a defence that was all over the place. At times their defensive line looked well set-up but they were guilty of ball-watching and Wales took full advantage.
Still, the Welsh could not afford to feel comfortable until late on because they were not able to put much daylight between them and Scotland. They made an excellent start, gradually began to dominate and showed direction and pace but at the interval they were only 10-6 ahead – and this was despite having a man extra for 10 minutes after Nathan Hines was sent to the sin-bin.
There would have been a genuine worry that Wales were about to do what England did last weekend – fail to capitalise on early superiority.
To be fair to Scotland, they played well just before half-time and with a little more conviction and composure among their backs they could have pegged Wales back. But early in the second half James Hook took splendid advantage of seeing two front-rowers ahead of him and carved them up for a lovely try.
Paterson's persistence with the penalty kicks had reduced the Welsh lead to two points when, on the hour, Gatland decided to change his half-backs. Mike Phillips and Hook must have wondered what they did wrong to be replaced by Dwayne Peel and Stephen Jones. But Gatland has quickly created an atmosphere in which everyone is kept on their toes and the replacements did very well. Peel looked very sharp and Jones brought a steady, controlling influence to see Wales safely home.
What Gatland has done in such a short time is amazing. Wales are playing with toughness and all the screaming and shouting in training has put them on their mettle.
They have the self-belief to keep steadily to the task and with the coach not afraid to rotate his squad I doubt if complacency will ever be a problem.
Although Shane Williams scored twice and generally played well I thought Martyn Williams deserved the man-of-the-match award. He really is an exceptional player.
There was plenty of promise all round. Lee Byrne had another good game and the big young winger Jamie Roberts is going to be a handful for any defence.
With the momentum of these two wins behind them, Wales will be entitled to look forward optimistically to the rest of the tournament. After meeting Italy next they have to play Ireland in Dublin which will be very, very tough and then meet France at home in the final match.Reuse content