Scotland’s first Guinness Six Nations victory in Wales since 2002 was built on the strength and industry of the visiting pack, with Jamie Ritchie picking up the Guinness Six Nations Player of the Match award after an all-action display in Llanelli.
Blustery conditions denied both sides the chance to play the flowing rugby they are capable of and the first game of Super Saturday quickly became a hard-fought battle.
Ritchie’s defensive work stood out throughout the 80 minutes at Parc y Scarlets, with the 24-year-old making 13 tackles in a physical contest.
The flanker also won two turnovers, getting his hands over the ball with two minutes to play to win his side a penalty which Stuart Hogg slotted between the posts to seal a 14-10 victory.
Ritchie was out on his feet in the aftermath, an illustration of the effort he had put in to help his side come out on top, and also carried a threat with in ball in hand, making 43 metres from nine carries.
“We have been waiting a long time to get the Guinness Six Nations finished off and we were all desperate to get back out on to the field,” he said afterwards.
“We thought the weather was going to be a bit worse and we were preparing for that all week.
“We knew we would need a big defensive performance and that was probably the difference in the end, the time we were able to keep them down in their half.
“The boys controlled the game a lot better in the second half, which is something we spoke about at half-time and was probably the difference.”
Scotland trailed 7-6 at half-time courtesy of Rhys Carre’s close-range try for the hosts but Gregor Townsend’s men continued to apply pressure after the break.
They earned their reward when a dominant rolling maul sent Stuart McInally over just after the hour mark and Hogg’s late penalty sealed the outcome.
Scotland have now won three successive Championship matches for the first time since 1996, having beaten Italy and Ireland in the two games prior to lockdown, and could finish as high as second if other results on Super Saturday go their way.
Ritchie paid tribute to the team spirit within the Scotland camp and dedicated the victory to the supporters watching on from their homes.
“We are such a close-knit group and we are really privileged to be able to be together as a group and do what we love, which is representing Scotland,” he said.
“That’s what we were doing it for, everyone back home who is watching.”