Wales brought a wretched eight-match winless run to an end by beating Scotland 24-6 at Murrayfield with a try in each half from winger Shane Williams in the Six Nations on Saturday.
James Hook, brought in by Wales to provide some creativity at flyhalf, set up Williams’ seventh-minute try and kicked three penalties to push the visitors to a 16-3 halftime advantage.
Two penalties by Scotland number 10 Dan Parks reduced the deficit, but Williams grounded Jonathan Davies’ kick through in the 70th to grab his 55th Test try and kickstart Wales’ campaign, following its 26-19 loss to England last week.
“We are a resilient bunch and we really wanted to put things right after last week. Everyone’s blowing really hard but we got the result out there,” said Wales flanker Sam Warburton, who was named man of the match.
The win will take some of the heat off under-pressure Wales coach Warren Gatland, while Scotland suffered its second straight defeat in the competition after going down 34-21 in France.
It was also the Scots’ eighth defeat in nine matches against Wales and they will rue not taking full advantage when the Welsh went down to 13 men during the first half, following quickfire yellow cards to lock Bradley Davies and fullback Lee Byrne.
“The guys are hurting pretty hard. Everybody’s disappointed,” Scotland coach Andy Robinson said. “That is unacceptable, what happened today.”
Hook was named as Wales’ flyhalf for the first time in two years after regular number 10 Stephen Jones sustained a neck injury, although the latter was fit enough to make the bench.
Gatland charged the Perpignan-bound playmaker with giving the team’s misfiring backline some go-forward and inspiration, and he did just that in the seventh.
Hook spotted Scotland prop Allan Jacobsen struggling in the defensive line and darted through it, offloading 10m out for Williams to slide over.
The Ospreys winger is behind only Japan’s Daisuke Ohata (69) and Australia great David Campese (64) in the list of all-time tryscorers in Test rugby.
Hook converted and then landed three penalties in the space of eight minutes to extend Wales’ lead to 16-0.
Scotland had been pinned back in its own half for the majority of that time and was having trouble containing the powerful midfield charges of Wales center Jamie Roberts.
The flow of the game changed when Davies was sent to the sinbin for cynically kicking the ball away at a ruck as the Scots made inroads for the first time toward the Welsh line.
Wales then lost Byrne to a yellow four minutes later, leaving the team six minutes to hold on with only 13 players. In that time, however, Scotland scored just three points — through a penalty from Parks — and the visitors had their full complement by the time the halftime whistle was blown.
Scotland remained on top in the early stages of the second half but had no cutting edge, at one stage going through 15 phases without really denting the Welsh defence and then aimlessly kicking possession away.
A second Parks penalty did trim the deficit to 16-6 in the 59th but Wales never looked threatened and nearly claimed another try when Roberts fed off turnover ball and sprinted 40m, only to be hauled down by Sean Lamont 15m out.
A penalty came moments later, though, which Hook converted before being replaced by Jones.
Williams provided further relief for the Welsh by dotting down for his 53rd try for Wales, running onto a kick forward by Davies to ground in the left corner.
“We’ve been a wounded animal all week after the England game and we knew it wasn’t an easy task coming up here to get a result,” Wales captain Matthew Rees said.
“The commitment, the endeavor, everything was there for us, especially going down to 13 men at one point.” – Sapa-AP