WALES, with heads frazzled by Project Reset chaos, allowed defensive standards to slip on Tuesday.

With a merger between the Ospreys and Scarlets on the cards on Monday yet off the table the following afternoon, the preparation for Scotland was disrupted.

Wales have built the best defence in the world under Shaun Edwards but it didn’t look that way at the Vale Resort after a start to the week that had featured meetings with Welsh Rugby Union bigwigs rather than total focus on the Scots.

However, four days later it was their hunger, desire and attitude without the ball that kept them on track for a first Grand Slam since 2012.

WRU chairman Gareth Davies had admitted that “the wheels came off” Project Reset yet the national team passed their MOT for the 13th Test on the bounce.

The squad were true to their pre-match pledges of putting the chaos of Welsh professional club rugby – with some of them not sure about where they will be working next year and some of their regional teammates fretting about whether they will be working at all – out of their minds.

When a makeshift Scotland disrupted by injury hammered away at their line in the second half, Wales survived thanks to hitting the levels that Edwards expects.

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“This is a fantastic group of men and they are pretty tight,” said head coach Gatland. “There is no doubt Monday and Tuesday had an impact on the players. We didn’t train very well on Tuesday and we did not defend well which is normally our main defensive day.

“We have had to back that up on Thursday and Friday and tidy some stuff up. After that early start to the week the players have kind of got on with their job.

“There is a lot of emotion involved with everyone and I take my hat off to them about how they have dug deep.”

That Wales avoided a Scottish banana skin is credit to the leaders in the group, the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Jonathan Davies who ply their trade in the west.

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“If we’d been on the wrong end of the result then we wouldn’t have used it as an excuse,” said Jones about the week of politics.

“It has affected everyone, not just the boys from the regions in question, but credit to the leadership group and the younger guys in the squad that just got on with the job.

“Sometimes when that sort of off-field stuff happens you want an outlet, and our outlet was rugby.”

But Wales are realists and know that better will be needed against Ireland, who possess the power to make chances in the 22 count.

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Gatland’s men were superb in the first half but should have been more than 15-6 ahead and the head coach admitted afterwards that perhaps the management got the tone wrong at half-time.

So comfortable were Wales that they just expected more of the same, yet the possession and territory stats – and penalty count – went the other way and the action remained in front of the South Stand.

The defensive exploits mean there is a danger of it being forgotten just how good Wales were in the first half.

They pummelled the Scots and the only grumble could be that they didn’t make their superiority count on the scoreboard.

After Finn Russell had opened the scoring with the boot, Wales responded swiftly for the opener with wing Josh Adams’ fast feet bamboozling last man Blair Kinghorn.

Gareth Anscombe converted and then traded penalties with Russell before a score that was reminiscent of Cory Hill’s crucial one against England.

This time is was 23 phases of patient brutality that ended, after two terrific lines by centre Hadleigh Parkes, with a simple finish for his midfield partner Jonathan Davies down the left.

At 15-6 another score could easily have cracked Scotland and led to an ugly second half but Wales botched three golden chances – one sloppy five-metre lineout, a terrible penalty miss by Anscombe and an Adams knock-on from a five-metre scrum.

From being in total command to backs to the wall.

Scottish pressure eventually told when a clever set move put Byron McGuigan running into the 22 and he put fellow wing Darcy Graham over via Adam Hastings.

Crucially the tricky conversion from the right was wide and the hosts had to get over the line again to win it, with 20 minutes to do so.

They had their chances but blew them, allowing Wales to escape and play out the final minutes in enemy territory.

A comfortable afternoon turned tense. Expect more of the same against the savvy Irish on Saturday.

Scotland: B Kinghorn (A Hastings 31), T Seymour (B McGuigan 20), N Grigg, P Horne, D Graham (G Laidlaw 64), F Russell, A Price, A Dell, S McInally (captain, F Brown 69), W Nel (S Berghan 64), G Gilchrist, J Gray (B Toolis 64), M Bradbury, J Ritchie (H Watson 8-14, F Brown 14-20), J Strauss (H Watson 64).

Scorers: try – D Graham; penalties – F Russell (2)

Wales: L Williams (D Biggar 47), G North, J Davies, H Parkes (O Watkin 74), J Adams, G Anscombe, G Davies (A Davies 69), R Evans (N Smith 61), K Owens (E Dee 64), T Francis (D Lewis 64), A Beard (J Ball 20-30, 61), AW Jones (captain), J Navidi, J Tipuric, R Moriarty (A Wainwright 69).

Scorers: tries – J Adams, J Davies; conversion – G Anscombe; penalties – G Anscombe (2)

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)