Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


5 Key Points For Beating Wales

Scotland's backs celebrate victory over Ireland - © Alastair Ross
Scotland's backs celebrate victory over Ireland - © Alastair Ross

Two wins on the hoof for Scotland, both won in very different circumstances and both against statistics that would see most teams soundly beaten. You might be forgiven for thinking the breaks between games had been pre-planned just to let us catch a breath.

Scotland come up against a resurgent if slightly spluttery Wales on Saturday with a chance to go second in the table and even (whisper it) push for the Championship itself. But what do Scotland need to do to overcome the Welsh?

1. Score More Than 20 Points

There is an old saying in Rugby: You don’t beat Wales… You just score more points than them. Scotland are not going to be able to grind out a win by sticking bodies on the line like they did against Ireland. The good news is Scotland have shown they can score tries and no longer have to rely on the boot in order to pick up points. However Scotland may have to find a way to rack up 20 points or more in order to ensure a win and keep themselves in the hunt.

2. Catch Wales Napping

Wales are not quick out the blocks. All of their tries in the tournament so far have come in the 2nd half and most of the points they’ve conceded have come in the 1st half. To beat Wales Scotland have to rack up as many points as possible in the first 50 minutes as history suggests they will have to survive an onslaught once the Dragon wakes up.

3. Keep The Heid

Leigh Halfpenny has his kicking boots on and has only missed twice in the tournament so far. Neither kick was as easy as the ones missed by Paddy Jackson two weeks ago. Scotland cannot rely on errant kicking and must keep the penalty count down in their own half. Keeping 15 men on the pitch for the full 80 minutes is also crucial. The loss of Ryan Grant didn’t make much difference against Ireland but Wales are better equipped to take advantage of extra numbers.

4. Make Touch

The selection of Duncan Weir over Jackson suggests Scotland might be looking to try for territory through the boot. Rain is forecast which might help carry the ball into touch but Scotland must make sure it gets there. Wales thrive on phase play and Scotland cannot afford to let ball carriers build up any momentum. Hogg, Visser and Maitland will have to chase every kick to prevent quick throws and mop up any loose balls.

5. Win The Tackle Contest

Our standard #5, this. Scotland’s good fortune in the tournament so far has largely been down to endeavours of the forwards in fighting for every ball. A lack of a genuine openside may have limited the number of turnovers but Scotland were able to slow both Italy and Ireland down in attack. However players were caught out in both matches resulting in penalties and the offer to see the contents of the referee’s pocket if it continued. Scotland were lucky not to incur more than one yellow card against Ireland and will be coming up against a genuine openside in Sam Warburton at the weekend. Warburton may not be in-form at the moment but he will be hungry to prove his worth to both Rob Howley and Warren Gatland.

Additional reporting: Scottish Rugby Blog Staff

7 Responses

  1. Nothing novel in my view that Scotland are extremely unlikely to be able to live with Wales if there is no improvement in the possession stats, not the least because every single tackle against their big runners will feel like another car crash! Also, we won’t be in a position to put Cameron’s points 1, 2, & 4 above into practice without the ball. I suspect that we’ll look to turn their wings in defence too, particularly Cuthbert who is somewhat vulnerable to that tactic

  2. We have the elements of a great team and I think we will win on Saturday but I hope Ryan Grant lasts at least as long as Adam Jones because going wit two tight-head replacements is a bit of a risk. Big fan of Moray Low but playing him at loose-head against best tight-head in Northern Hemisphere could be a sore one, repeat though, we will win.

    1. John, Is it just me, or have Moray Low and Jon Welsh actually swapped sides in recent outings? Initially I assumed it was a temporary, injury-cover scenario, but will it become permanent?

  3. Good points and Scotland will need to complete all 5 objectives in order to win. I am still haunted by 2010 where Scotland came out of the blocks flying with a few tries and one cruely disallowed… only to see the famous Welsh fightback in full flow. I was sitting next my Welsh mate the whole game and felt sick at the end. Please do not do this to me again Scotland.

    I really hope the weather holds up. I do not buy in to this ‘rain is a leveler’ for Scotland logic. We have potentially one of the most potent back threes in the tournament and I want to see them with the ball in hand attacking. This will of course depend on the breakdown but it was only last year when Scotland dominated this statistic so the ability is there.

    Looking forward to another cracking match!

  4. Just seen some stats about both sides in the tournament so far. Scotland have won turnover ball 19 times to Wales 18 and Wales have lost turnoverball 35 times compared to Scotland’s 28. Makes you question whether you really need a genuine openside?

  5. Coming up from London to watch this game – more in hope than expectation but it is nice to have some hope again.

    Wales have the pedigree but I can’t help feeling are not as good as they think they are. Scotland are still pretty green and flawed but man-for-man are not actually far off the Welsh. There is a lot resting on Duncan Weir’s shoulders for his debut but if he pulls off a good performance could see us win and him claim the shirt for a wee while.


  6. Firstly, Eoin I think the powers that be are thinking that Moray might be a better scrummager on the loose side where he can ” force” the tight head up. Difficult to say if it will work because Glasgow seem to have an embarassment of riches in the front row. Work in progress I think. Secondly, until professional players stop allowing themselves to be suckered into giving away penalties in kickable areas then we are going to remain static. The scrum was a mess and Ford et al just didn’t seem to get it into their heads that the ref was interpreting the laws in a negative way from us, he wasn’t going to change so we had to. We didn’t .

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion