Vern Cotter hails Scotland's long-awaited win over Wales
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 25/02/17 8:50pm
Vern Cotter hailed Scotland's second-half fightback against Wales as his ever-improving line-up kept hopes of a first Triple Crown in 27 years alive.
The Scots found themselves under the cosh during a brutal first-half battle at Murrayfield but Rob Howley's side only managed a Liam Williams' touchdown and eight points from Leigh Halfpenny's boot as they went in at the break 13-9 ahead.
It was a different story after the break though, with wings Tommy Seymour and Tim Visser crossing over as the rampant Scots racked up 20 unanswered points to clinch a 29-13 victory.
The Scots will now head to Twickenham in two weeks' time hoping to ring up a clean sweep of victories against the Home Nations and Cotter could barely contain his pride.
"I'm really happy for a number of reasons," he said. "We set out to win the game but at half-time we weren't particularly well placed to do that.
"The players adjusted well after the break and I thought we scored a couple of nice tries and transferred pressure back onto Wales.
We are still in the competition and we can now get back to work on Monday and prepare for England.
"Some of the little things we needed to tidy up and bring in some intensity. The boys did really well. We realised we were watching them play rather than playing ourselves.
"We decided we could influence the outcome if we did a few things. I'm very proud of that response.
"The boys went out and started talking the game to the Welsh and the result is that for the first time in a while we can sit here and talk about beating Wales. Hats off to the players for a great performance."
Scotland's victory is all the more meaningful as it ends a decade of hurt against the Welsh and was achieved without skipper Greig Laidlaw, whose Championship has been ended early by injury.
Flanker John Barclay assumed the armband but he was ably assisted by the likes of Finn Russell - whose contribution of 19 points with his boot saw the Scots to their biggest win over the Welsh since 1993 - Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg as the Scots stood up to a man to make up for the loss of their leader.
The Dark Blues' scrum that has creaked in both their opening-day win over Ireland and the defeat to France in Paris also stood firm when they needed it most.
That collective effort will be required in spades if Cotter's men are to shoot out the tires of Eddie Jones' English juggernaut.
"We're on a roll," said the Kiwi before adding with a nervous grin: "That's a joke obviously. We know how hard Twickenham is.
"John did a great job out there steadying the ship while the young players put a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the game.
"This means we are still in the competition and we can now get back to work on Monday and prepare for England."
Williams dived over after 22 minutes when Rhys Webb's clever thinking caught the hosts off guard.
But with just a four-point interval deficit, Scotland were able to roar back. First Visser slotted in Seymour to score four minutes after the restart before the flying Dutchman capped off a superb display with two more crucial interventions.
First he stopped Webb scoring with a last-ditch tackle before finishing off himself with 14 minutes remaining following a nerveless assist from Hogg.
Wales could have put the squeeze on the Scots early with a penalty early in the second half but their decision to go for the corner back-fired when skipper Alun Wyn Jones was pinged at the lineout.
Jones, asked whether he might have gone for the points with hindsight, replied: "I would have liked to. The kickers didn't want to, so we went for the corner.
"Then I got done for blocking at the back of the lift, but I would have liked to have gone for the three."
The defeat now leaves Wales' Six Nations ambitions in tatters and head coach Howley admitted: "We are hugely disappointed. Our second-half performance simply wasn't good enough.
"Scotland squeezed us. We lacked quality possession and when we got it, Scotland were hugely effective in the contact area.
"We failed to take a couple of clear-cut chances, and they proved far more clinical near our line, although we conceded soft tries by letting them get outside us.
"We got turned over too easily and lost the aerial battle as well, so there is a lot for us to dissect."