IT was a strange occasion at Parc y Scarlets with the stands empty and the match being played seven months later than we are used to seeing Six Nations finales – but that should not detract from the magnitude of what Gregor Townsend’s team achieved here.

Scotland have waited 18 years to win in Wales, and 10 years to beat any Six Nations oppos–ition other than Italy away from home, so this was a big achievement. It is the first time Scotland have won three games in a row in the same championship since 1996, when head coach Townsend was playing stand-off.

You would not call it a sparkling performance, but it was gritty, and disciplined, and smart – which are attributes that have not always been synonymous with this team.

The fact they achieved this despite losing talismanic stand-off Finn Russell with a groin injury after half-an-hour, and his replacement Adam Hastings with a popped shoulder 10 minutes before the end, reinforces the impression that Scotland may have turned a corner from being a nice team to watch and a nice team to play against to become a more bloody-minded outfit who will grind out results even when things are not going their way.

Scotland started well with props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland working in unison to win a turnover on the deck

almost directly from kick-off, and then Liam Williams gave away a penalty for going off his feet at the next breakdown, but Russell’s tricky shot at goal from wide on the left did not quite have the legs.

Russell got another chance when a high ball from captain Stuart Hogg caught in the wind and Ryan Elias was called for an off-side as Wales struggled to deal with the loose ball, and this time the Scotland stand-off nailed the points from directly in front of the posts.

The visitors continued to dominate possession and territory, and a long, floated pass from Russell put Blair Kinghorn in space on the left, but the winger had to check his run to gather the ball which gave Williams the extra half second he needed to get across to snuff out the threat.

Scotland recycled, and when the ball swung back to the right, a neat pass inside from Chris Harris to Hogg unpicked the Welsh defence for the first time, but the Scotland captain’s return pass was slightly early, which allowed Dan Biggar to put Harris off his stride.

Wales made 50 tackles to Scotland’s 10 during the opening quarter, which gave an indication of the general pattern of play. But the visitors had only three points to show for all that dominance, and you could sense what was going to happen when home No.8 Taulupe Faletau gathered a loose pass off his bootlaces and then angled an inch-perfect kick into the corner.

Scotland hooker Fraser Brown – who had been struggling with the wind all match, and who had just been given treatment on the pitch – overthrew the line-out to the tail, and Elias gobbled up possession. A few powerful phases later, Rhys Carre burrowed across the line.

Worse still for Scotland was the sight of Russell hobbling off the pitch as Biggar slotted the conversion from in front of the posts.

With their tails up, Wales dominated the next eight minutes, but Scotland weathered the storm, and they pulled it back to a one-point game in the last action of the first half when another ruck infringement handed Hastings an easy shot at goal from in front of the posts.

After a scrappy, scoreless third quarter, Scotland grabbed the lead through replacement hooker Stuart McInally from a line-out drive which was powered over the line by the whole pack, assisted by James Lang, Harris and Darcy Graham joining in from the back line.

Leigh Halfpenny struck back almost immediately

after Hogg was penalised for not playing on the deck, and it was back to a one-point game with 15 minutes to go. And when the visitors then lost Hastings to injury – prompting a back line reshuffle which involved scrum-half Scott Steele making his debut as a winger, Kinghorn dropping to full-back, and Hogg shifting up to the No.10 slot – they needed to be smart and hold their nerve.

They did so excellently. Ali Price, aided by Hogg, pulled the strings to ensure that the final 10 minutes was played deep in Welsh territory and then, with two minutes to go, the hosts attempted a desperate final escape from their own 22, but Jonathan Davies fumbled the ball, and Shane Lewis-Hughes was penalised for going off his feet in the scramble to reclaim possession. Hogg stepped forward to drill home the points which put the gloss on a well-deserved win.

Scorers, Wales – Try: Carre. Con: Biggar. Pen: Halfpenny.

Scotland – Try: McInally. Pens: Russell, Hastings, Hogg.

Wales: L Halfpenny; L (Liam) Williams, J (Jonathan) Davies, O Watkin (N Tompkins 73), J Adams; D Biggar (R Patchell 42), G Davies (L (Lloyd) Williams 72); R Carre (W Jones 49), R Elias (S Parry 69), T Francis (D Lewis 57-73), W Rowlands (C Hill 57), AW Jones, S Lewis-Hughes, J (James) Davies, T Faletau (A Wainwright 69).

Scotland: S Hogg; D Graham (D van der Merwe 66), C Harris, J Lang, B Kinghorn; F Russell (A Hastings 31, S Steele 69), A Price; R Sutherland (O Kebble 53), F Brown (S McInally 53), Z Fagerson (S Berghan 53), S Cummings, J Gray, J Ritchie, H Watson, B Thomson (C du Preez 53).

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)