Injury-hit Scotland Host Wales at Murrayfield in Round Three
Last updated: February 24, 2017 by Leon Marshal
|Kick-off:||Saturday, 14:25 (GMT)|
|Last season:||Wales 27 – 23 Scotland|
|Competition:||RBS Six Nations|
With both Scotland and Wales having had to time to reflect over their losses in round two of the Six Nations, rugby fans can look forward to what is set to be a gruelling battle at Murrayfield on Saturday. Scotland were valiant two weeks ago in Paris; they pushed the French hard and looked dangerous with ball in hand but were finally undone in the final quarter as the effects of being pummelled at the scrum began to show. Wales, on the other hand, stepped up a gear and played with enormous intensity and a fearsome physical edge against their old foes, England, before a single mistake gave Eddie Jones’s adept side too much of an opening and dashed Welsh hearts. The need to produce an 80-minute performance and assert some dominance is clear in both camps as neither side can afford another loss at this crucial stage of the competition.
Vern Cotter has been forced to make five changes to the side that fell short against France. The one that will be most felt is the loss of captain and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, who has long been at the centre of things when Scotland have been playing well: his leadership skills and accuracy from the tee will be sorely missed. The captaincy role has been handed to Scarlett’s back row, John Barclay, who has the responsibility of making sure the Scottish game plan stays on track as he battles with Sam Warbuton and Ross Moriarty over control of the gain line. Elsewhere, Hamish Watson goes onto the bench in place of John Hardie, who is joined by Ryan Wilson at number 8; Ali Price comes in for Laidlaw at number 9; Gordon Reid replaces Alan Bell in the front row, and the powerful Harlequins winger Tim Visser takes the place of Sean Maitland. Whilst these changes will see a drop-off in intensity from the side that played so well in their opening fixture against Ireland, Cotter’s main concern will be tightening up the set piece, which looked shaky against the French, and preparing his forwards for what is sure to be a relentless physical onslaught from Wales.
Rob Howley would not have been alone in thinking that his side had done enough to secure victory as Liam Williams turned the ball over at 74 minutes after England had been probing and stretching the welsh defence. If not for a scuffed kick by centre Jonathan Davies, the result may have been very different, and Wales could have been sitting at the top of table with one eye on the championship. They had every right to be disappointed after coming so close to halting England’s 15-game winning streak, but they can take great pride and confidence from their performance in which they went up a gear and showed great resolve. Howley makes just one welcome change to the squad that played in Cardiff in round two as George North comes back in to replace Alex Cuthbert on the right wing and add some more dynamism to the back three. If Wales can maintain their physical edge and be as clinical at the breakdown they may prove to be too much for Vern Cotter’s side.
Greig Laidlaw will miss the rest of tournament after suffering an ankle injury against France. The Gloucester scrum half of 58 caps hands over the captain’s role to John Barclay and will be replaced by Ali Price.
Tim Visser gets the opportunity to start on the wing as New Zealand-born winger Sean Maitland is forced out due to a rib injury. It is not yet known whether he’ll be available for the rest of the tournament.
George North comes back into the side after suffering a dead leg in the opening fixture against Italy in Rome. He joins Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny in the back three for his 67th cap.
The recent form of Ross Moriarty has kept Toby Faletau out of the Welsh starting XV. Moriarty’s work rate and abbrasive ball carrying has led to him being given the nod over the Tongan-born Faletau, who has held down the number 8 jersey for the past few seasons.
|Scotland:||Reid, Brown, Fagerson, Gray, Gray, Barclay, Hardie, Wilson, Price, Russell, Visser, Dunbar, Jones, Seymour, Hogg|
|Subs:||Ford, Dell, Berghan, Swinson, Watson, Pyrgos, Weir, Bennett|
|Injured:||Laidlaw, Maitland, Strauss,|
|Wales:||Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, Jones, Warbuton, Tipuric, Moriarty, Webb, Biggar, Williams, Williams, Davies, North, Halfpenny|
|Subs:||Baldwin, Smith, Lee, Charteris, Faletau, Davies, Davies, Roberts|
|Scotland 2016 – Present||Wales 2016 – Present|
|8th||IRB World Ranking||5th|
|6 (1)||(at home) Wins (2016 – Present) (away)||5 (3)|
|43–16 vs. Georgia||Biggest win (2016 – Present)||64-17 vs. Italy|
|(3) (0)||(at home) Losses (2016 – present) (away)||4 (4)|
|35-25 vs Ireland||Biggest Defeat (2016 – present)||46-6 vs. New Zealand||36||Tries Scored (2016 – present)||30|
|29||Tries Against (2016 – present)||32|
|4||2016 Finishing Place||2|
|16||Six Nations Titles||37|
- With a total of 377 in the first two opening games, Scotland have made the most tackles in the tournament so far. They have a tackle success rate of 88.5%, while their opponents this weekend, Wales, have a success rate of 89.2%
- Wales will be looking to attack the set piece after seeing Scotland struggle at the scrum against France. Wales currently have the best lineout success in the tournament with 98%, and also boast the highest success rate at the breakdown.
- Scotland are currently fifth in the stats table for the number of metres gained. They’ve managed 625 in their first two fixtures, compared to Wales who have managed 820. They’ve also have made 13 clean breaks and beaten 27 defenders.
- In the 134-year-long history of fixtures between these two sides there have been only been three draws and a total of 2,845 points scored. In Scotland, there has been a total of 121 fixtures played, in which Scotland have won 48 and Wales and have won 70.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Try-scorer|
|13/02/2016||Six Nations||Wales 27 – 23 Scotland||G Davies 6′|
|12/02/2015||Six Nations||Scotland 23 – 26 Wales||S Hogg 9′|
|15/02/2014||Six Nations||Wales 51 – 3 Scotland||L Williams 15′|
|9/03/2013||Six Nations||Scotland 18 – 28 Wales||R Hibbard 21′|
|12/02/2012||Six Nations||Wales 27 – 13 Scotland||A Cuthbert 42′|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
Wales go into this fixture in prime position to record yet another victory over Scotland in the Six Nations – Scotland haven’t managed to beat Wales in the tournament since 2007. The Scots got off to a flying start in the competition and fought hard against France two weeks ago in Paris. However, the loss of captain Greig Laidlaw is a real blow, and further injuries in key positions may render them unable to cope with the intensity Howley’s side will surely bring to the game. Try placing a bet on Wales to win with a margin of 6-10 points, or perhaps opt for a two-way handicap with Wales starting on -5 points. Top prices are currently showing at Paddy Power.