Shane Williams scored two tries as Wales beat Scotland 30-15 at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday to make it back-to-back Six Nations wins under new coach Warren Gatland.
But they found it hard to finally see off a Scotland side that stayed in the game until the final quarter thanks to the boot of the recalled Chris Paterson, who landed all five of his penalty kicks at goal following his seven successes in his team’s 21-9 win over Wales last season.
Williams’s double took his Test try-tally for Wales to an impressive 37 in 53 matches.
Wales flyhalf James Hook, an influential figure during last weekend’s dramatic 27-19 win over England, scored Wales’s other try and kicked two conversions and a penalty.
Stephen Jones, who had a calming influence after replacing Hook when Wales’s lead had been cut to two points just short of the hour, landed all three of his goalkicks.
For Scotland this was a second straight defeat following last week’s 27-6 thrashing by France and it also meant they’d scored just one try in their last five matches.
”To get a win was fantastic for us,” said Wales skipper Ryan Jones.
”If we didn’t win this week, last weekend [win away to England] meant nothing.
”Scotland put us through our paces but we got the job done in the end.”
Wales, with flanker Martyn Williams to the fore, dominated the first half in terms of territory yet turned round just four points ahead at 10-6.
Unlike their dramatic Twickenham triumph, Wales were quickly out of the blocks but it was Scotland who opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Paterson, controversially left on the bench against France, landed a penalty from 22m after Wales infringed at a line-out.
However, minutes later, Wales went ahead with a typical breakaway try.
Scrumhalf Mike Phillips, one of their stars at Twickenham, ran from deep and found centre Gavin Henson on the left. He in turn released Lee Byrne before the fullback passed to Shane Williams, who jinked his way round Scotland number 15 Hugo Southwell for a well-worked score.
Hook converted and Wales were 7-3 in front.
Scotland were fortunate to see Nathan Hines merely sin-binned, rather than sent-off, by New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence in the 16th minute when the lock, winning his 50th cap, appeared to punch Byrne.
Scotland though, to their great credit, didn’t concede any points during the 10 minutes while they were a man down.
Hook extended Wales’s lead with a penalty and there was a further blow for Scotland when their captain, Jason White, had to go off in the 32nd minute.
But after Wales were penalised for collapsing a scrum, Paterson — who didn’t miss a single goalkick at the World Cup — succeeded with his second penalty to keep the visitors in touch.
Then early in the second-half Paterson, who in winning his 83rd cap broke Gregor Townsend’s record for most Test appearances by a Scotland back, made it three from three to reduce Wales’s lead to just a point.
Wales were trying to force things yet it was from a move that appeared to have broken down that they scored their second try.
A stray pass was gathered up off the turf by prop Duncan Jones and he fed Hook, who skirted round the cover, for a fine try. Hook converted to make it 17-9.
Yet still Wales, making plenty of unforced errors, couldn’t break clear and Paterson’s fourth penalty cut the lead to five points.
That became 17-15 when the left wing made it five from five after Wales were penalised for diving over the top at a ruck.
Gatland then replaced half-backs Phillips and Hook with the experienced pair of Dwayne Peel and Stephen Jones in a bid to restore control while Matthew Rees came on for hooker Huw Bennett in a triple 58th-minute substitution.
The New Zealander wasn’t finished there, with Gareth Delve replacing captain and number eight Jones just after the hour mark.
Scotland were finding it tough going against a revitalised Wales and, when they conceded a 65th-minute penalty, Stephen Jones punished them from in front of the posts.
Then came a moment of sheer brilliance from Williams, who sprinted down the flank and, with inches to spare, dived over, although it took Italian video referee Carlo Damasco several minutes to award the try.
Stephen Jones then made the game safe with a penalty. — Sapa-AFP