Kyle Steyn’s double helped Scotland break new Guinness Six Nations ground as they defeated Wales 35-7 to win their opening two Championship matches for the first time since 1996.
The wing scored twice in the space of seven second-half minutes, both put on a plate by Finn Russell, to swing the contest in the home side’s favour and inflict a first defeat against Scotland as Wales coach on Warren Gatland.
George Turner’s first-half try got the ball rolling but Wales captain Ken Owens responded to keep the match tantalisingly poised at the interval, which arrived with Scotland 13-7 ahead.
But Russell and Steyn’s link-up took the game away from the visitors after the break and Blair Kinghorn sealed the bonus point with nine minutes to play.
There was still time for one more Russell assist, Matt Fagerson the beneficiary, as Scotland wrapped up their biggest ever points victory over Wales – surpassing a 35-10 scoreline in 1924.
The result also secured the Doddie Weir Cup for Scotland, in their first match at BT Murrayfield since the former international passed away from Motor Neurone Disease in November.
MAGIC MIDFIELD HELPS SCOTLAND FORGE AHEAD
Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones attracted plenty of praise for their part in Scotland’s win at Twickenham in Round 1 and the centre partnership were quick to pick up where they left off.
A delightful delayed pass by Tuipulotu set Jones away for the home side’s first foray deep into Welsh territory and though Jamie Ritchie was ultimately tackled following Russell’s crossfield kick, the scrambled visiting defence conceded a penalty which the fly-half struck over to open the scoring.
Ben White was next to break free, Wales grateful to George North for preventing the ball reaching Duhan van der Merwe as Scotland continued to threaten.
The visitors survived a further scare when Rio Dyer’s loose pass forced Dan Biggar into a hurried clearance inside his own 22 and they fell further behind when Russell slotted his second penalty, shortly after Stuart Hogg saw his 100th international appearance come to a premature end following a failed HIA.
TURNER MAKES WALES PAY FOR PROFLIGACY
The next 10 minutes belonged to Wales but they were unable to make repeated visits to Scotland’s 22 count.
A lineout in a promising position was stolen by the excellent Richie Gray before a five-metre scrum also came to nothing after the visitors were penalised for offside.
Biggar was next to spurn an opportunity, dragging a kickable penalty wide, and Wales were almost made to pay when a neat move worked space for Steyn on the right only for Dyer to intervene with a vital tackle in the corner.
They could not escape on the half-hour mark, however, as Turner broke free from a rolling maul to burrow over for the first try of the afternoon which Russell converted.
OWENS CUTS THE GAP
Scotland have paid for indiscipline against Wales before, be it Zander Fagerson’s red card in 2021 or Russell’s yellow 12 months ago, so Turner being sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on North was an ominous sign for the hosts.
Wales did not take long to make their numerical advantage count, Owens punishing his opposite number’s indiscretion by joining him on the scoresheet after a dominant drive.
Biggar’s conversion brought Wales to within six and he then almost turned provider with the final action of the first half only for Dyer to fumble when well placed on the left.
STEYN DOUBLE GIVES SCOTLAND CUSHION
Scotland started the second half on top as they looked to extend their lead and they came within a whisker of doing so five minutes after the restart.
After Russell had given them strong position with an excellent 50:22, Turner put his head down for the line once more but found himself held up a metre out as Wales stole possession back.
Van der Merwe got the home crowd roaring soon afterwards with a trademark hare down the left wing and Scotland soon stretched their advantage.
Russell was the provider, a superb offload providing Steyn with a simple finish, and the same pair linked up to devastating effect once more before the hour mark as Wales quickly paid for losing Liam Williams to the sin-bin.
This time it was Russell’s boot which laid the foundations, an inch-perfect kick setting up Steyn to cross in the same right-hand corner and open up a 25-7 lead.
Wales were in no mood to go down without a fight but were again unable to make a promising position count, replacement Rhys Carre spilling just as he looked to have found a route to the line.
And the difference in cutting edge between the sides was exemplified when Kinghorn gleefully finished off a flowing Scotland move for the hosts’ fourth try of the afternoon.
Fagerson’s late score in the corner from Russell’s pass added further gloss to the scoreline and leaves Gregor Townsend’s side in excellent shape ahead of a mouthwatering trip to Paris in Round 3.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – FINN RUSSELL
What can be said about Scotland’s maverick no.10 that hasn’t been said already?
Russell was at his influential best at BT Murrayfield, setting up three of his side’s five tries and keeping the scoreboard moving with the boot.
The 30-year-old is a joy to watch in full flow and this was the latest example of just how important he is to Townsend’s team.