Wales returned to winning ways with a hard-earned 28-18 victory over resurgent Scotland at the Millennium Stadium. Mike Ruddock's injury hit squad showed they would not give up their RBS Six Nations crown without a fight with a four-try win that puts them right back in the title mix.
Scotland were on a high after their historic victory over France but were forced to play 57 minutes with only 14 men after Scott Murray was sent off. The power of the Welsh pack had already earned a sixth minute penalty try before captain Gareth Thomas extended his record as the top try scorer in Welsh rugby history with his two scores while Robert Sidoli also went over in a stylish win.
Scotland hit back with two late tries to soften the blow on the scoreboard but Ruddock will be delighted at his team's response to their opening game defeat to England. Ruddock had kept faith with the same team that went down at Twickenham a week earlier and his forwards responded in emphatic style.
Colin Charvis was stopped short after pinching a line-out five yards from the Scottish try line but the Welsh pack flexed their muscles at the resulting series of scrums. Four times Wales shoved Scotland back and when Jason White dived in as Wales rumbled their way over the line, referee Steve Walsh pointed under the posts for a penalty try after just six minutes. Stephen Jones converted for a 7-0 lead.
Wales dominated up front but Scotland's backs caused plenty of problems and Chris Paterson could have earned more than his 17th minute penalty if he had been able to hold onto an earlier pass.
Jones missed with his second penalty attempt but the game exploded in the 23rd minute when Scotland lock Murray was sent off for kicking opposite number Ian Gough. The Welsh second-row was sin binned for a late hit on Murray who saw red for retaliation. With both sides reduced to 14 men the game inevitably opened up as Wales looked to extend their lead. Thomas saw his try ruled out after Shane Williams was said to have put a foot in touch before delivering his scoring pass.
Lee Byrne thought he had scored just seconds after replacing Hal Luscombe but Matthew Watkins's pass was judged forward. On 33 minutes, Wales finally got their second try thanks to the leading Welsh try scorer of all time when Thomas caught his own chip over the Scottish defence and wriggled free of the last tackle to score under the posts.
Gough returned to the field from the sin bin but it was Scotland who scored before the break through Paterson's second penalty that left Wales 14-6 ahead at the break. The second brought more of the same as Rhys Thomas' try was ruled out for Williams' earlier pass and Scotland went close after Andrew Henderson's break. But Wales hit back with two stunning length of the field tries in the space of nine minutes for Sidoli and Thomas.
Mark Jones and Hal Luscombe combined to run Wales out of defence to set up another Welsh attack. Thomas crashed onto the ball and Dwayne Peel followed before flicking a scoring pass to Sidoli on 53 minutes.
Thomas then grabbed his second of the game after a scorching break from deep inside his own half by Shane Williams. The Welsh backs chased his kick ahead and did well to rob Paterson of possession. Peel streaked ahead before Thomas finished a stunning score in the corner to bring the Millennium Stadium to it's feet.
Scotland showed the same grit that beat France last week with two late scores. Hugo Southwell went over in the corner before Paterson intercepted Gethin Jenkins' long pass to race 80 metres under the posts in the final minute.
WALES v SCOTLAND SCORING SEQUENCE
SCOT Con: Paterson (80 mins)
SCOT Try: Paterson (79 mins)
SCOT Try: Hugo Southwell (77 mins)
WAL Con: Stephen Jones (63 mins)
WAL Try: Gareth Thomas (62 mins)
WALCon: Stephen Jones (54 mins)
WALTry: Robert Sidoli (53 mins)
SCOT Pen: Chris Paterson (37 mins)
WAL Con: Stephen Jones (34 mins)
WALTry: Gareth Thomas (32 mins)
SCOT Pen: Chris Paterson (17 mins)
WAL Con: Stephen Jones (5 mins)
WAL Try: Penalty Try (4 mins)
WALES: G Thomas (capt); M Jones, H Luscombe (L Byrne, 30-40), M Watkins (N Robinson, 75), S Williams (L Byrne, 70); S Jones, D Peel (M Phillips, 70); D Jones, R Thomas (M Davies, 77), A Jones (G Jenkins, 68), I Gough, R Sidoli (A Jones, 78), C Charvis (G Delve, 66), M Owen, M Williams.
Tries - G Thomas (2), Penalty, R Sidoli. Cons - S Jones (4).
SCOTLAND: H Southwell; C Paterson, B MacDougall (S Webster, 66), A Henderson, S Lamont; D Parks (G Ross, 61), M Blair (C Cusiter, 61); G Kerr (C Smith, 54), S Lawson (R Ford, 54), B Douglas, A Kellock (S MacLeod, 66), S Murray, J White (capt), S Taylor, A Hogg (J Petrie, 66).
Tries - H Southwell, C Paterson. Con - C Paterson. Pens - C Paterson (2).
Referee: Steve Walsh (NZ)