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Scotland Team to Face Wales

Duncan Weir - Photo © Alastair Ross
Duncan Weir - Photo © Alastair Ross

Duncan Weir, the 21-year-old Glasgow Warriors stand-off, will make his first start for Scotland in Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations Championship match against Wales at Murrayfield.

Weir, whose three previous caps have been won from the bench, replaces his clubmate Ruaridh Jackson in the pivotal position. It’s a big call from Scott Johnson but one that was refreshingly made on merit as Weir has ridden his excellent club form into the national team. He looked sharper and tougher in his cameo against Ireland, and he’ll also be able to concentrate on running the game with Laidlaw taking the pressure off at kicking time. His big boot offers a better alternative for touch-finders and long penalties too, and perhaps his tactical abilities were the key to his selection opposite a Welsh back division that will thrive on ill-judged kicks and gifted possession.

The other change to the initial line-up from the team that defeated Ireland is Euan Murray who returns to the tighthead berth with Geoff Cross perhaps unlucky to be moving to the bench. Murray has been brought in to anchor the scrum against a proficient Welsh unit and may yet surprise us again in the loose. Cross can add impact from the bench while the Welsh are without Gethin Jenkins.

Ryan Wilson, the 23-year-old Glasgow Warriors No 8 who has led his club on three occasions this season and who was captain and man of the match in Scotland A’s victory over England Saxons last month, is introduced to a match-day 23 for the first time as David Denton drops out through injury. Denton sustained a knee injury when playing for Edinburgh Rugby against Scarlets in the RaboDirect PRO12 at the weekend, a game in which he looked frustrated at times and the struggling capital side lost – by just a point. It is a just reward for Wilson who has been playing far beyond his years whilst captaining a Glasgow side that are quite frankly on fire.

Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson said: “Selection is tough just now but that’s a good thing as we increase competition for places.

“Duncan did well when he came on against Ireland and he got some decent game time for Glasgow at the weekend. He’s a talent with a really good work ethic and a thirst to improve, which I like a lot.

“Ruaridh remains a key part of our squad but he knows with Tom Heathcote proving a match-winner for Bath and kicking goals from here, there and everywhere, that he needs to up his game too.

“Geoff (Cross) was a standout against Ireland and it’s up to Euan, who fronted up big time against Italy, to raise the bar again.

“Wales will be going for their fifth successive away victory in the championship and that would be a record for them but our focus is on ensuring we win the contact zone, continue to improve and make it three wins on the bounce.”

Scotland team to play Wales in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at Murrayfield on Saturday 9 March (kick-off 2.30pm): Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Sean Lamont, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Duncan Weir, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Robert Harley, Kelly Brown, Johnnie Beattie Replacements: Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Geoff Cross, Alastair Kellock, Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Max Evans

Unavailable through injury: Chris Cusiter and Chris Fusaro (both Glasgow Warriors), David Denton, Grant Gilchrist and Ross Rennie (all Edinburgh Rugby)

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Blues); Alex Cuthbert (Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Blues), George North (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Bayonne); Paul James (Bath), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (capt, Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues), Toby Faletau (Dragons)
Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Scott Andrews (Blues), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Blues), James Hook, Scott Williams (Scarlets).

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa).  Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand) and Lourens Van Der Merwe (South Africa). TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy).

9 Responses

  1. Great stuff, Rory, thanks. Difficult to argue with any of this selection tbh, altho I’m sure there will be a few that would have preferred to see Alex Dunbar in for Sean Lamont, and possibly John Barclay pulling on the 7 jersey. I suppose that SLamont provides significant experience in an otherwise fairly raw backline at international level, and hopefully Dunbar (and Horne and others) will get his (their) chance in the summer. In an ideal world, an out&out fetcher at openside would have been ideal for this fixture to combat the Welsh backrow, but tbh I’m not sure that Barclay has been fulfilling the precise requirements of that role for the last wee while – Chris Fusaro and Ross Rennie fit the mould far better, but unfortunately neither are available. I think that inter-changing Kelly Brown and ‘Wrecking’ Rob Harley could work well, as both are well capable of making a right nuisance of themselves at the breakdown/tackle area, neither being easy to shift. What is more important for this game is to see the rest of the forward pack lending a vital hand

  2. Difficult selection in the front row. Murray’s tackling statistics have been very impressive for a prop but he has to step up and justify his selection. Girth had proved that he is up to the challenge with a man of the match performance against Ireland. Granted, Wales offer a different challenge so presumably SJ’s thinking is that Girth can make more of an impact once the game breaks up a bit, especially with no Gethin Jenkins. I just hope Girth is still motivated (which of course he will be) but it must get quite frustrating when you perform at every opportunity but are still looked over on a Saturday.

    Otherwise, good team selection and competition for places really warming up. This summer’s tour will be great as we now have a few options at centre and the right combination to unleash our back 3 will be great to watch. I hope Sean Lamont has a big game as he is being critized despite not doing a lot wrong and will be able to contain Jamie Roberts… I would still prefer one of the new boys on the bench though.

    1. Agree about the bench. Frustrating for Evans but there’s a reason he’s not getting on – he’s not needed unless there is an injury…

  3. Agree with most of the above. Was a wee bit disappointed not to see either Horne or Dunbar on the bench. However, the summer tour provides the opportunity to introduce a new look midfield and hopefully see Rennie and Fusaro getting back too. Anyone have any idea how they’re progressing? It would be highly desirable for both to get some game time in before the end of the season. I know Lamont’s not a natural 13, but I think he’s there for experience and attitude, as well as bish bash. Great faith in SJ for picking Weir.

  4. Sean Lamont may not be the dashing all-round centre Scottish fans long for but I think he mostly gets a rough deal from commentators because he is so associated with previous years of failure.

    Yes, there are limitations to his game and I do think Dunbar and Horne should get their chance sooner rather than later, but Lamont has never let anyone down in a Scotland jersey and I suspect is valued as an older head and leader for the younger guys.

    I’d have preferred to see Horne on the bench for Max Evans, otherwise this is about as good a team as we can put out.

  5. WTF SJ?!!! What else does Girth have to do to prove he should start! A match winning performance in the last game and he is dropped!!!

    I still believe in you and a relish the thought of that leg drive when you finally take the field with 20 minutes still on the clock. Go get ’em Girth and C’mon Scotland!

    #Girth4lions

  6. Lamont hasn’t done a lot wrong but is still a very limited player in attack. It’s not the time to throw a new face into the midfield from the start however would have been nice to see Horne/Dunbar on bench. Pleasing to see Wilson involved. Far more effective than Denton has been this season in the rabo. Murray put in a huge performance against Italy but must now do the same to justify his inclusion.

  7. Good shout FF – I remember Lamont from when he broke into the Glasgow side in his first stint …one of the bravest players I’ve ever seen. This year’s England game was not a time for debuts and despite the disappointments of the day, Lamont has more than justified his place. He retains the ball and rarely fails to make ground – a hard man to put down … his commitment to the cause is etched on his soul. I was always a fan of what the Evans brothers brought to Glw and Scotland but I think Maxi’s days are numbered – he can only play on the wing because he doesn’t pass (- ask Chris Paterson). Dunbar and Horney will get their chance soon – understand Horne would have been in at the start of 6N but for a pesky thumb. Delighted to see he has developed the recoil handoff – first noticed in his wonder try against Northants but again in evidence in the opener vs Cardiff – what he does not only beats a defender but projects him c 2m out of danger towards the line. God I love stuffing Welsh sides …. another on Saturday and life would be just about perfect – this is not only a game!

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