Six Nations 2011 Preview: Scotland vs. Wales at Murrayfield
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Both of these sides lost their opening games, but Scotland will probably have emerged from the first weekend the happier of the two, having scored three tries at the Stade de France.
Under coach Andy Robinson, Scotland have been steadily improving over the last few seasons, and they showed this last autumn by beating South Africa. Wales, on the other hand, are moving in completely the other direction, having not won in eight tests.
The usually solid Scottish scrum was taken apart by the French last weekend, and they know they will have to improve in this area in order to compete with the Welsh. The most threatening attacking players for Wales currently are amongst the forwards, and Scotland will have to be aware of the ball-carrying abilities of Bradley Davies, Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate.
Wales have moved James Hook into the fly-half position, and he will have to inspire a faltering back line. The more experienced backs, such as Shane Williams and Jamie Roberts, will need to perform better if this area of the team is to function properly. The out-of-form Lee Byrne will replace Hook at fullback, and this is possibly an area Scotland could look to target.
Last week, both Max Evans and Jo Ansbro impressed for Scotland, and they also have the physical presence of Richie Gray if he is fit to trouble the Welsh defence.
These players will be crucial to Scotland’s chances of scoring tries this weekend. Where Scotland fell down against the French was conceding turnovers and exposing themselves to counterattacks. They cannot afford to do this again, because Wales will surely punish them heavily for mistakes in this area.
It is important not to underestimate the significance of this game for both teams, because the loser will have no realistic chance of finishing in a decent position at the end of the tournament. This match should be very close, but on the basis of current form and the fact that this game is at Murrayfield, Scotland should just be able to edge it.
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