Wales head coach Wayne Pivac believes matchwinner Louis Rees-Zammit is only getting better after the young wing inspired a thrilling second-half comeback victory over Scotland at BT Murrayfield.
Both sides came into the Round 2 match full of confidence after winning their Guinness Six Nations openers but it was Scotland who built up a commanding 17-8 half-time lead thanks to tries from Darcy Graham and captain Stuart Hogg.
Nevertheless, the visitors never let themselves be defeated and two tries from Rees-Zammit, coupled with scores from Liam Williams and Wyn Jones, proved pivotal in turning the tide dramatically in Wales’ favour as they snatched a dramatic win 25-24.
The 20-year-old wide man was at the heart of the Welsh display as he used all his speed and flair to outfox Scotland’s defenders – and he had his boss purring after the final whistle.
“He [Louis Rees-Zammit] with the ball was exciting wasn’t he. He took his opportunities very well, he played well with the ball in hand,” Pivac said.
“He’s still got work to do and that’s the exciting thing, without the ball. He’s going to be a very, very exciting player going forward for us.
“He’s got the confidence with ball in hand. He’s got the pace, you can’t coach that, he’s very, very quick.
“He showed that and took that opportunity very well and the skill with the kick was magnificent. He’s improving each week and he’ll keep working hard on his game and I’m sure will improve again.”
Despite Wales’ second half comeback, Gregor Townsend’s in-form side were the better team in the first half, continuing their Calcutta Cup momentum with a couple of well-worked scores.
The turning point though proved to be Zander Fagerson’s sending off for making contact with Wyn Jones’ head at the ruck, but even with 14 men Scotland still gave as good as they’d got with the two teams dealing blow after blow on one another.
And yet, Wales managed to withstand the pressure and complete a comeback for the second time in a week – his side’s resilience delighting Pivac.
He added: “We’ve shown a lot of character [to come back from 17-3 down].
“At that stage of the game it wasn’t going to script but we regathered our thoughts, the leadership on the field was good and we came away with that score before half time which was vital for us going into the changing rooms.
“We’ve just been busy working as a group. The atmosphere and the group environment in training is a very good one, the senior players are leading very, very well.
“The guys are enjoying coming to work I think and we’re certainly enjoying working with them. It’s a lot of work by a lot of individuals, it’s not down to one or two people it’s a squad effort.
“It’s a long way to go and we’re very well aware of that but we’re certainly happy to have those nine points.
“I’m very pleased. Pleased for the players because they’ve worked so hard. They’ve had a really good two weeks in camp and, as I say, they’ve been in camp longer than they normally would be away from their families and so a result like this in a tense game like that is very pleasing for the coaching team and the management to be able to send the players off for a couple of days off with a win like that to re-join their families.
“It’s well documented what we did in the autumn and that was with a view of the World Cup and building some depth. You saw today the side that we put out, we’ve had to call on some depth at six and in the midfield and everybody put their hand up when they needed to.”
England, back in form after their win over Italy, await next and the Wales boss is under no illusions about the challenge which that presents.
“I think it was evident for everyone there that it wasn’t the complete performance,” Pivac added.
“Al’s [Alun Wyn Jones] talked about that in the changing room with a couple of people and we’ll address our game over the next couple of weeks.
“But it’s Round 2 of the tournament and we’ll expect to be improving each time we take the field.”