Wales overcame a sluggish start to crush an error-prone and ill-disciplined Scotland 27-13 in the Six Nations on Sunday and make it two wins from two.
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny scored two tries and kicked 12 points, while winger Alex Cuthbert also touched down for the hosts, who scored 24 unanswered points in a rampant 15-minute spell at the start of the second half at the Millennium Stadium.
Scotland, who had more than held their own in the first 40 minutes and were level at 3-3 at halftime, were put to the sword after having two players sin-binned.
Scotland rallied briefly from 27-6 down with Greig Laidlaw getting his side’s first try in five matches on his first start, but it was too little, too late as Wales confidently followed up last weekend’s win over Ireland.
“I’m pleased with the result. There are a few things to work on, but we knew how tough Scotland were going to be,” Wales coach Warren Gatland told the BBC. “Everyone had written them off, but at halftime the message was: ‘We know we’re in a Test match, we need to be more accurate. Let’s just keep it simple, retain ball and create some chances.’”
Wales now head to Twickenham to take on England, also with two wins under interim coach Stuart Lancaster, on Feb. 25, while Scotland must lick their wounds before hosting France a day later.
Wales were forced to reshuffle hours before the game when captain Sam Warburton withdrew after failing to recover from a dead leg. His place in the back row was taken by debutant Aaron Shingler, with Ryan Jones taking over the captaincy.
Scotland, quick to the breakdown and demonstrating a ferocious work rate, did not let Wales settle in the opening half, and the hosts suffered further injury woes when they lost hooker Huw Bennett and wing George North, who had to be helped off just before the break.
Andy Robinson’s Scotland had been the marginally better side, but mistakes, as they had made in the home defeat by England, cost them dearly once again.
A knock-on close to the Wales line cost them the chance of a try in the first half and the game was turned on its head at the start of the second.
Scotland committed another glaring error when Chris Cusiter made a hash of gathering the kickoff to hand Wales a lineout inside their opponents’ 22. The ball was then worked wide for Cuthbert, who brushed off a missed tackle to touch down.
Scotland were reduced to 14 men after center Nick De Luca was sin-binned for an off-the-ball tackle, which Halfpenny, who kicked a late penalty to defeat Ireland, further punished to extend the lead to 13-3.
Flyhalf Laidlaw also proved accurate with the dead ball, but a rampaging Wales struck again as swift passing created the space for Halfpenny to dart over.
Scotland were in disarray and after fullback Rory Lamont was sent to the sidelines for a professional foul, Halfpenny touched down again in the corner for his second and a third Wales try.
Scotland, back with a full complement of players, did at least rally in the final quarter, but the game had already slipped from their grasp.
Replacement Stuart Hogg was denied a try when he was ruled to have knocked on with the line at his mercy, but Laidlaw did score a consolation when he gathered from a maul and reached out for the line.
Robinson said his side had played well, but he was once again left to rue missed opportunities.