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Preview: Wales v Scotland

Fri, 14 Mar 2014 06:26
Warburton-fire.jpg630
We've got to answer some questions
Quote-end

Although their hopes of a third consecutive Six Nations title are gone, Wales will be looking to end their campaign on a high against Scotland on Saturday.

Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde says the short turnaround means the side can't dwell on defeat to England ahead of the showdown with Scotland at the Millenium Stadium.

McBryde admits that the pain of the 29-18 loss in London is more keenly felt within the Wales camp than anywhere else but he knows that a positive response is the only way they stand a chance of putting things right in the final round of the Six Nations.

"It's a quick turnaround so we can't dwell too long on the performance against England, as disappointing as it was," said McBryde.

"There's nobody more disappointed than the players and the coaches in the fact that we haven't delivered. There was a big expectancy of us and we didn't live up to it against Ireland and we didn't live up to it against England.

"That expectancy will have grown for our last home game against Scotland and we can't shy away from it. We've got to answer some questions, but we can only do that on the field," he added.

McBryde is expecting a big response from Scotland who had their hearts broken in the last minute against France at Murrayfield last week.

"Scotland will be hurting after their game against France, a game they should have won. They've made improvements and Scott Johnson is returning to Wales so it will be a big challenge," he said.

The Wales assistant coach explained that his team are well-aware of where they need to improve.

"We know where we fell down against England. We know we weren't good enough in our execution and our composure. We didn't really give ourselves any sort of platform to work off. We created some opportunities early on that we didn't take and we've fallen foul of the referee at the scrum.

"A lot of those things are within our control and we're not looking outside of the squad with regards to finding the answers."

Wales were on the wrong end of a number of decisions at scrum-time on Saturday and former hooker McBryde knows that a similar scenario against the Scots won't help them end the Championship on a high.

Gethin Jenkins was yellow carded on the day that he equalled Stephen Jones' record of 104 Wales caps but McBryde was disappointed with the way in which the Cardiff Blues prop was ordered off as he felt the scrum was an even area of battle at Twickenham.

"It is just something we have got to get better at doing in managing the referee and making sure we have got absolute clarity with regards to what he is looking at," added McBryde.

"As far as I see it, it was a hugely-competitive area of the game. There was only one re-set. We were dominant, we were going forward in a number of those scrums, yet the decision went against us. The unfortunate thing is that one man has been singled out, and everyone could see the dejection on Gethin's face when he came off - he didn't know what else he could have done.

"Scrum, line-out, contact area, those are the things that really you have got to be at your best, especially when you come up against a team who are gunning for you, as are all the teams. If you are champions, you know you are going to have to be at your best week in, week out, and, unfortunately, we haven't been," he added.

Players to watch:

For Wales:
Both wings - Alex Cuthbert and George North - have plenty of power and pace, whilst Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts are an established midfield combination. Skipper Sam Warbuton will target the breakdown and up front Gethin Jenkins sets the record for most Test caps for Wales.

For Scotland: Fullback Stuart Hogg has the ability to break the line and will get good support from hard-working wing Max Evans. Flyhalf Duncan Weir's boot will be crucial, but scrumhalf Greg Laidlaw is more likely to act as playmaker. No.8 Dave Denton always gives it everything and will get good support from towering lock Richie Gray.

Head to head: Scottish debutant Dougie Fife should have his hands full up against George North, whilst in midfield the duel between Alex Dunbar and Jonathan Davies should be a good one. Both captains Kelly Brown and Sam Warburton play openside flank and their battle on the ground could prove crucial whilst in the engine room Richie Gray will look to outdo lanky Luke Charteris in the line-outs and Geoff Cross will have a key scrum contest with Gethin Jenkins.

Recent results:
2013: Wales won 28-18 in Edinburgh
2012: Wales won 27-13 in Cardiff
2011: Wales won 24-6 in Edinburgh
2010: Wales won 31-24 in Cardiff
2009: Wales won 26-13 in Edinburgh
2008: Wales won 30-15 in Cardiff
2007: Scotland won 21-9 in Edinburgh
2006: Wales won 28-18 in Cardiff
2005: Wales won 46-22 in Edinburgh
2004: Wales won 23-10 in Cardiff

Prediction: Scotland will play with plenty of heart but Wales will have too much class at home so we expect them to win by ten points.

Teams:

Wales:
15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Rhodri Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Paul James, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 James Hook.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Max Evans , 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 David Denton, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Euan Murray, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Alasdair Strokosch, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Date: Saturday, March 15
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.45 (14.45 GMT)
Predicted weather: Partly cloudy but no rain, high of 14 with a 20 kph wind
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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