Preview: Scotland v Wales

Thu, 07 Mar 2013 22:13
Large johnnie beattie scotland Large toby faletau wales Large greig laidlaw and stuart ho Large leigh halfpenny wales

The Welsh love the Scottish trip. Paul Dobson previews the Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.

The Welsh love the Scottish trip. Paul Dobson previews the Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.

Remember Max Boyce?

Oh we went up to the Highlands of Scotland
To the land of the loch and the glen
And we'll all bring our wives back a present
So we can go next time again.

For the Welsh it's a bus ride away, they are fellow Celts, and Wales usually win. They would expect to win again this year. After all Wales won the Grand Slam last season, Scotland the wooden spoon.

Wales played five and won five; Scotland played five and lost five. But that was last year.

Wales are different this year and so are Scotland.

Both sides have won two matches and lost a match. Wales lost to Ireland, but Scotland beat Ireland. That may be significant.

At least it tells you that at Murrayfield the Scots will not be a walk-over. Wales may go up to the Highlands with bit of trepidation. There is a new determination in Scotland.

The match against Ireland was remarkable. They had less than 20 percent of the ball and their crowd was quietly mumbling in the expectation of defeat till those last 10 minutes when suddenly victory became a distinct possibility.

This time it may well be Scotland go bragh from the very begriming, from the teams running out, the skirl of the bagpipes, the firing of the long gun and the blast of the first exciting whistle.

Wales will know that Scotland can do it. They know that Scotland can nearly match that powerful scrum and beat them in the line-out and at the tackle. They know Scotland have a good goal-kicker in Greig Laidlaw and good runners in their back five. But then Wales have an excellent goal-kicker, a strong back three, and powerful centres.

But then again the Scots proved against Ireland that they will defend ferociously.

In their three matches each so far, each side has scored six tries. Scotland have yielded six (four against England whom Wales are yet to play), Wales three.

Players to Watch:

For Scotland: There is Stuart Hogg, who is the find of the 2013 Six Nations. He can change defence into attack in a split second and from anywhere on the field. He would be above all the player to the player to watch, exciting from the moment the ball looks to be heading his way. You would watch No.8 Johnnie Beattie for his all-round commitment.

For Wales: You would also want to watch Leigh Halfpenny, so secure under the high ball and also keen to counter. No.8 Toby Faletau is worth watching for his strong ball-carrying.

Head to Head: Front row to front row - there is a lot of strength in both, especially now that Euan Murray is back.  Kelly Brown vs Ryan Jones, captain vs captain, tall, brave loose forward vs tall brave loose forward. Sean Lamont vs Jonathan Davies - two strong, direct centres, always willing to take an opponent on. There is always a battle between scrumhalves - sedate Greig Laidlaw and combative mike Phillips.

Recent results:
2012: Wales won 27-13, Cardiff
2011: Wales won 24-6, Edinburgh
2010: Wales won 31-24, Cardiff
2009: Wales won 26-13, Edinburgh
2008: Wales won 30-15, Cardiff
2007: Scotland won 21-9, Edinburgh
2006: Wales won 28-18, Cardiff
2005: Wales won 46-22, Edinburgh
2004: Wales won 23-10, Cardiff
2003: Wales won 23-9, Cardiff

Prediction: Let's go out on a limb and say Scotland by three. Last year that would have been a silly thing to do; not so this year. And the predicted weather is scary - a cold, cold, stern afternoon in Edinburgh.

The Teams

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 6 Robert Harley, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Moray Low, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Max Evans.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Ryan Jones (captain), 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun-Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Scott Andrews, 18 Ryan Bevington, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 James Hook, 23 Scott Williams.

Date: Saturday, March 9
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT)
Expected weather: There is a 50 percent chance of rain on a bitterly cold day when the high is 5°C, dropping to 0°C.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)

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Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 5 0 0 26
Wales 5 3 0 2 15
Scotland 5 3 0 2 13
France 5 2 0 3 11
England 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 1