1. The Breakdown Battle
If Wales were to have any chance of beating Scotland, they would have to prevent Scotland from getting the ball into the hands of Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Tim Visser in the wider channels.
This they did during the first half and were rewarded with a steady stream of penalties as a result. However, Scotland changed their approach after half-time when Finn Russell looked to put Wales under pressure with cross-field kicks and touch finders.
Vern Cotter also dispensed with the forward pods Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric targeted in the first period, clearly asking his side to go wide at the earliest opportunity.
Scotland’s dangermen were able to take on their opponents one-on-one in the wider channels as a result, and with the help of a referee who failed to spot some crossing, scored two tries.
2. Wales’ Dominance At Scrum Time
During both their opening games against Ireland and France, the Scottish scrum was found wanting on numerous occasions. In fact, the set piece was central to Scotland’s defeat in Paris and it cost them again today.
Zander Fagerson might yet prove to be a top-class tighthead, but for now, Scotland are missing WP Nel.
However, given the progress Scotland have made under Vern Cotter, once the Edinburgh tighthead does return next season, Gregor Townsend will have a stable platform from which to unleash his potent backline.
3. Welsh Errors
At times it looks as though Wales are very comfortable playing with the expansive game plan Rob Howley is trying to implement. However, as was the case on a number of key moments, their players attempted speculative offloads that didn’t go to hand.
What’s worse, on two occasions Wales knocked on when it seemed as if the line was at their mercy. Errors such as these allowed Scotland maintain a foothold in the game and keep their opponents at bay during the second half.
In turn, Wales seemed to lose confidence and began to returned to type with a series of one-off carries, a 15 man lineout and the introduction of Jamie Roberts from the bench.
4. Rhys Webb For The Lions?
If there was one player who provided Wales with a constant flow of front-foot ball it was Rhys Webb. At the start of the Championship, most observers believed it was a straight shoot-out between Conor Murray and Ben Youngs for the Lions number nine jersey.
However, after two brilliant performances, Webb has put himself into contention. Throughout the game, the Ospreys scrum-half kept sniping around the fringes, providing Wales with the go-forward ball they longed for.
Nevertheless, they were unable to capitalise as Wales inevitably made errors when the line appeared to be within touching distance.
5. The Importance Of Scotland’s Win
In the aftermath of their victory over Ireland, some commentators had argued that Vern Cotter’s team had caught the Irish cold on the opening day of the Championship.
Indeed, after Scotland’s defeat in Paris and Ireland’s mauling of Italy, such a narrative was given credence. Therefore it was important for Scotland to record a victory over Wales to quieten the doubters and those who suggested their win over Ireland was a fluke.
No doubt many will point to Scotland’s defence and the way in which they kept Wales at bay, but Vern Cotter can take a lot of credit for the intelligent tactics his side have employed thus far.
Despite being destroyed at the scrum and having what is perceived to be a weaker back row than their opponents, Cotter has his side playing to their strengths and it’s paying dividends.
Perhaps most importantly, Scotland’s win keeps them inside the game’s top eight nations ahead of the World Cup draw.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
On this week’s Oval Office Podcast, Rob Henderson tells us about Ireland’s 12 potential Lions, Paddy Butler identifies weaknesses in the French game plan, Mako Vunipola discusses the challenge of facing Tadhg Furlong and historian David Toms relives Ireland’s 2007 clash with England in Croke Park.