This was no way for Wales to mark a milestone game for Alun Wyn Jones.
Iconic captain Jones became rugby’s most capped player by making his 149th appearance in Llanelli, but he will not look back on this game with fondness such was the paucity of his team’s display.
Wales have now lost their last five matches and they were awful here, getting on the wrong side of referee Andrew Brace to concede a mammoth total of 16 penalties. For the second week running they were also totally inefficient at the breakdown. Wayne Pivac’s side made countless errors, albeit in tough conditions, and offered nothing in attack.
Their breakdown woes meant they could not retain possession for any length of time and rendered their back-line redundant.
Worse still for those of a Welsh persuasion, it was Scotland who had far more energy about them.
This was a first Scottish win in Wales since 2002.
Wales led 7-6 at the break, but they lacked intensity and were lucky to be ahead.
Rhys Carre’s converted try was responded to by a pair of Scottish penalties. In the second half a Scotland try from Stuart McInally was the key moment and Wales couldn’t get back ahead despite a Leigh Halfpenny penalty.
Stuart Hogg’s penalty with the last kick won it for Scotland.
Pivac will now be under severe pressure because the bottom line is this wasn’t good enough from Wales even though Covid-19 forced them to play away from their usual Principality Stadium home.
Wales flanker Justin Tipuric was a late withdrawal before kick-off with tonsillitis and was replaced by James Davies. It meant an inexperienced back-row started for the home side with Shane Lewis-Hughes making his debut alongside Davies. Taulupe Faletau, at least, was at No 8.
Scotland had star backs Hogg and Finn Russell back together again and while nothing other than Six Nations prize money was on this game, Wales were desperate to end a poor run of form.
Wales lost possession from their second ruck following kick-off after Davies carried forward. It was a poor start after the contact area had troubled Pivac’s side in France last weekend.
It did not improve from there.
Russell missed with an early penalty and Wales’ second line-out also went awry as a breezy afternoon in Llanelli made for a scrappy start. Russell did finally get the scoreboard moving.
Scotland had conditions in their favour and it took Wales until the 16th minute to get any real possession, but when they did so after a turnover, Will Rowlands promptly dropped the ball.
Wales conceded five penalties in the first 20 minutes and Scotland were far livelier as Hogg found himself in space only for the final pass not to stick.
A short spell of torrential rain hardly improved what was at best an ordinary watch and at worst, downright awful. Jones nicked one Scottish line-out, but it was the men in blue who were the better of the two sides. Still, that didn’t say much. Faletau did well to pick up a poor pass and produce a chip ahead which put Wales into the Scotland 22 for the first time on the half hour mark.
Scotland did have the line-out and a chance to clear, but this time their set-piece went to pot and Wales capitalised. After a series of rucks, it was Carre who went over underneath the posts.
Dan Biggar converted Carre’s first international score and Russell handed Scotland a blow by limping off with a groin injury. Adam Hastings replaced the Racing 92 playmaker and kicked a penalty.
Biggar joined his opposite number in leaving the fray at the start of the second period. He had not looked 100 per cent either in France or in the first half in Llanelli. Rhys Patchell came on.
The dogfight continued. Both teams unloaded their benches in search of some impetus, but Wales’ replacements didn’t improve their breakdown struggles.
Lewis-Hughes, who at least showed a bit of dog, threw his hands up in the air when his team conceded yet another penalty to sum up the Welsh frustration.
From yet another Wales penalty, Scotland kicked to the corner and their driving maul really got a wiggle on. Replacement hooker McInally was the man to benefit, but Hastings’ kick went wide in the wind. Halfpenny immediately responded with three points to make it a one-point game.
All of a sudden every mistake was crucial, but it was Scotland who played out the game the better and it was no surprise when in the 79th minute, Wales conceded yet another penalty and Hogg booted Scotland over the line.
Wales: Halfpenny; Li Williams, Jo Davies, Watkin (Tompkins 74), Adams; Biggar (Patchell 43), G Davies (Ll Williams 72), Carre (W Jones 49), Elias (Wainwright 70), Francis (Lewis 57) (Francis 73), Rowlands (Hill 57), AW Jones (capt), Lewis-Hughes, Ja Davies, Faletau (Wainwright 70)
Scotland: Hogg (capt), Graham (Van der Merwe 66), Harris, Lang, Kinghorn, Russell (Hastings 33) (Steele 70_, Price; Sutherland (Kebble 54), Brown (McInally 54), Fagerson (Berghan 54), Cummings, Gray, Ritchie, Watson, Thomson (Du Preez 54)
Replacement not used: Toolis
Try: Carre 31
Con: Biggar 32
Pen: Halfpenny 66
Try: McInally 61
Pens: Russell 10, Hastings 40+2, Hogg 80+1
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Man of the match: Jamie Ritchie (Scotland)