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Wales v Scotland winners and losers as star of the future is born and Scots’ ‘mediocre’ traits emerge

Wales held out amid huge pressure to beat Scotland at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, bouncing back from their opening-round defeat in Dublin.

Delme Parfitt takes a look at the winners and losers from the tense game:

winners

Dan Biggar

He said his little boy would probably be watching Paw Patrol on his iPad rather than his daddy from his seat in the Principality Stadium stand.

No matter. This is one victory for Dan Biggar to show his son when he’s a little bit older and more able to appreciate it.

Biggar, on his 100th international appearance, said afterwards that this triumph over Scotland was one of his best ever for Wales.

That spoke volumes about just how important it was to him and everyone else involved with team Wales to bounce back from their capitulation in Ireland.

Biggar delivered a true captain’s performance in helping them to achieve that.

He kicked well, grabbed the all-important drop goal, and cajoled and prompted with all his nous and experience.

As a personal milestone was passed, Biggar reminded Welsh supporters just how valuable he remains to the cause.

read more: Dan Biggar’s humble Wales celebration plan amid heartwarming reunion with his son

read more: Biggar receives moving ovation for leading Wales to victory with one leg after wild scenes on final whistle

Wayne Pivac

It might seem obvious to put the winning coach in the winners’ bracket, but this was about more than just the victory for Wayne Pivac.

Before the game, pressure was increasing on him whether he acknowledges it or not. There were legitimate questions about whether he was getting the best out of what was at his disposal, regardless of a damaging injury count.

But this was the perfect response to the critics. He extracted a simply outstanding response characterized by searing commitment and a never-say-die attitude which was evident across the board.

Pivac desperately needed this result to validate the direction in which he is taking this team and he can approach the next two weeks preparing to face England with more breathing space.

Alex Cuthbert

There were raised eyebrows when he was brought back into the fold, and those eyebrows went a millimeter or two higher when he was handed a starting place because of injury to Josh Adams, who has been suffering with a calf strain.

But Cuthbert, so often a target for online trolls in the past, showed there is more than a trace of life in the old dog yet.

The Ospreys man kept himself involved throughout, made very few mistakes and looked for work for 80 minutes, popping up on both sides of the pitch at regular intervals.

Cuthbert gathering Biggar’s long-range penalty which hit a post late on and set up the attack from which the TMO denied him a try typified what he brought to the contest.

If anyone deserves to pat himself on the back after this, it’s Cuthbert.

Rate the Wales players:

The Welsh front five

Rugby is a macho sport. When you get blown away physically it not only means you lose matches, it strikes a real mental blow.

The front five of any rugby team inevitably carries the can in the arm-wrestle stakes, and a week earlier at the Aviva Stadium, they deserved to do so.

But what a difference a week makes. The Welsh scrum was even better than it was against Ireland, locks Will Rowlands and Adam Beard put in one hell of a shift, but the front row probably trumped them.

Tighthead prop Tomas Francis had one of his best games in a Wales jersey, capping a powerful display with a well-worked try.

Wyn Jones stood up to everything renowned Scots tighthead WP Nel threw his way in the scrum and hooker Ryan Elias, much-maligned at stages in the past year, also arguably enjoyed his best showing on the international stage.

Like the group as a whole, their task now is to maintain this.

Jac Morgan

Making your international debut is one thing, but making it in such a febrile pressure pot situation as this was quite another for Osprey’s rookie Jac Morgan.

Yet he stood up manfully to the task and will remember this day for the rest of his life.

Morgan can also reflect on a fine performance. He made 12 carries, making 53 meters for his team in the process, and completed 10 tackles. He was also, as was expected, a nuisance to the Scots at the breakdown.

On the whole, Morgan looked completely at home at Test level and is now yet another option on the openside flank for Wales.

You sensed the cast-iron confidence in him from people inside and outside of the game when he was named on Thursday by Pivac.

That confidence was in no way misplaced.

losers

Finn Russell

The multi-talented Scottish fly-half has largely shaken off many of the traits which earned him the ‘mercurial’, or more accurately ‘flaky’, tag.

He is unquestionably a genius on his day, but he will not want to remember this particular day for long.

Russell’s yellow card 13 minutes from time for a deliberate knock-on wasn’t that costly on the scoreboard in that Wales only claimed three points – although the winning three points via Biggar’s drop goal.

But his absence prevented Scotland from stretching Wales in the final stages when they had to chase the game.

Who knows what their response would have been had they boasted the full complement of personnel?

The sight of Russell planted a restart to touch on the full was another little reminder that, for all his ability, he continued to have a mistake in him.

Bullish Scottish pundits

We’ve all fallen into the trap of placing a bit too much store by victory and defeat in the Six Nations.

No surprise given it’s a tournament which pulls at the heart strings so much.

Scottish pundits were right to be confident after the contrasting fortunes of these two sides on the opening weekend, but even beforehand you sensed some were being overly confident.

John Barclay, such an insightful analyst, came across as supremely expectant of a Scotland win on the BBC coverage beforehand. Various other comments emanating from Scottish territory were of a similar vintage.

But many forgot just how uncomfortable Scotland have been with the favourites’ tag in the modern era. They’ve worn it like a club fan would wear the jersey of bitter derby rivals.

There’s something about the pre-match psychology being in their favor which brings out the mediocre in them, and so it proved once again.

The opening-day win against England opened the door to so much possibility, but the Scottish optimists had their kilts well and truly pulled down in Cardiff.

England

England? Well yes. Regardless of what they do against Italy on Sunday, they are now going to face a Wales team in a fortnight’s time which will surely be a different proposition to the one they might have expected a week ago.

Traditionally, Wales have got stronger as championships have gone on and they will now be going to headquarters with the pressure relieved somewhat and the oxygen of increased confidence.

England will still be favourites, obviously, but the odds will have shortened now.

Critically, Wales know they can go there and hold their own physically after what they produced against the Scots. Moreover, the Welsh set-piece suddenly looks umpteen times more secure than it has done for some time.

Without getting too carried away, you’d like to think Wales are a different proposition entirely heading to London.

England have a great deal more homework to do.

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