Scotland narrowly avoided a dramatic second half collapse to end their 22-year wait for victory in Cardiff to kicked off their Six Nations campaign with victory at the Principality Stadium.  

The visitors raced into a 20-0 lead in the first half thanks to tries from Pierre Schoeman and Duhan van der Merwe, and when the big wing scored early in the second half, Scotland were cruising.  

A much-improved Welsh side dragged themselves back into the contest after the break, but Scotland hung on by the finest of margins to record an opening round win for the third year in a row. 

Here are five things we learned from a pulsating Six Nations contest 

Fragile Scotland  

If Scotland were outstanding in the first half, Wales were equally poor. Tries from Schoeman and van der Merwe, plus 10 points from the boot of Finn Russell, helped the visitors into a 20-0 lead, and that advantage grew further when van der Merwe scorched clear just two minutes into the second half.  

At that stage, nobody would have predicted it would be Warren Gatland’s side who would be the only side to record a try bonus point, but what followed was an example of Scotland’s fragility.  

Four second half tries from a Welsh team who were every bit as dominant as the Scots had been in the first half saw them back to within a point. Scotland played half of the second period down a man with first George Turner, then Sione Tuipulotu sent to the sin-bin.  

A first win in the Principality Stadium since 2002 – a feat that felt almost a given at the break – hung in the balance in the closing stages. 

Scotland held on, but the players' faces at full-time told a different story.

Scotland Rugby News:

Dominating the gainline is key 

Scotland were overpowered by Ireland and South Africa at the World Cup, but they proved in the first half today they’ve the power game to match the running rugby most people associate with Gregor Townsend’s side.  

Within the first 10 minutes, Sione Tuipulotu had stamped his mark on the game by barrelling over Sam Costelow and Nick Tompkins, while Pierre Schoeman’s try shortly thereafter was a further sign of Scotland’s superior physicality in the first half.  

Wales just could not get any front foot possession. When they won a lineout on halfway, James Botham attempted to get his side moving with a trademark carry, but he was driven backwards by a combination of Scots, including the outstanding Russell. The Scotland skipper was then involved in holding up Josh Adams not long after – it was one of his best defensive displays for Scotland.  

In the second half, entirely the reverse was true. Tomos Williams, another off the bench at the break, upped the tempo, Wales abandoned their kicking game and began running everything and scored three tries in the third quarter. Scotland were hanging on.  

Townsend tried to respond by throwing on Jack Demspey and debutant Alec Hepburn on the hour, but they were unable to have the same impact as the home bench, but they did enough to help the visitors hold on for victory.  

Sione Tuipulotu is Scotland’s man at 12 

Scotland Rugby News:

Before this game, there had been calls in some quarters for Cam Redpath to come into the side and for Sione Tuipulotu to move to outside centre. Redpath has been in terrific form alongside Russell for Bath, but Gregor Townsend resisted and stuck with the Glasgow Warriors pairing of Tuipulotu and Huw Jones.  

After his rampaging performance in Cardiff, it is little wonder. The Australian-born centre has everything any coach would want from a Test 12. His carrying game got Scotland on the front foot time and again, while he showed lovely soft hands to give Russell space for Duhan van der Merwe’s try on the half-hour.  

His time in the sin-bin was costly too - such is his importance not only as a link with Russell in attack, but also in defence and especially with Chris Harris confined to the international wilderness for now. 

Set-piece is key 

During the World Cup, Scotland’s set-piece creaked at key moments. Scotland let slip good attacking opportunities against both South Africa and Ireland, whose set-piece superiority helped them send Gregor Townsend’s side home early.  

Today, for the first half anyway, Scotland’s lineout put Wales under huge pressure – Richie Gray stole one early on, and there were two more overthrown. That inaccurary stopped the hosts building pressure on, while Scotland’s lineout was far more stable.  

Warren Gatland reacted at half-time and brought on Elliot Dee for Ryan Elias, and it had an immediate impact. Wales scored two tries from lineouts, and the other two came within a couple of phases.  

The scrum was also an area Scotland would have hoped to get the upper hand, especially with Wales tighthead Leon Brown’s lack of game time this season, but Pierre Schoeman, George Turner and Zander Fagerson didn’t impose themselves in that facet of the game. Scotland lost promising attacking chances by conceding free-kicks, and shipped a couple of penalties early in the second half. 

There will be sterner challenges to come up front from Scotland: none more so than a wounded France. They will need to be better if they are to get parity with Fabien Galthie’s side.  

Discipline is crucial 

Whatever Warren Gatland said at half-time clearly had the desired effect on his team, but Scotland’s indiscipline in the second half did nothing to aid their cause.  

The visitors had been largely on the right side of referee Ben O’Keeffe in the first half, but when they lost George Turner and Tuipulotu to the sin-bin in the second period, it gave Wales hope. It also gave the home crowd a huge lift. 

That will be an area Scotland will need to tighten up when France visit Murrayfeld next weekend.