Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v Wales: The Teams

Duncan Taylor - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Duncan Taylor - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Matt Scott – one of the few Scotland players to emerge in credit after his strong defensive display during the latterly insipid loss to England last weekend – has been withdrawn from the Scotland team through injury. He has made way for in form Saracens back Duncan Taylor who will be given the role of shackling Jamie Roberts. Welcome to the party, pal.

Elsewhere the team is unchanged, apart from Sean Lamont who takes Taylor’s place on the bench. A number of players who might have been under threat (Ford, Maitland, even Laidlaw) given the chance to redeem themselves in the fiery cauldron of the Principalityium Stadium, quite possibly with the roof on and thousands upon thousands of Welsh hen parties screaming their daffodil-adorned heads off.

Distractions aside, it is no mean target with Wales not losing to Scotland since Warren Gatland took over. There is a very high chance that the team could raise their concentration levels massively and still come away with disappointment against a settled Wales side.

Kick off is 4.50pm on Saturday, coverage on the BBC.

It is also worth mentioning if you have Sky that the U20s match is on S4C on Friday night. With plenty PRO12 experience in their ranks, the Welsh are already going for a grand slam, S4C’s press release told me, even though they still have the “strong teams” to face eg England and France. Ahem. Our younguns aren’t done yet… best of luck to all the teams heading south this weekend.

Scotland team to face Wales: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Duncan Taylor, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, John Hardie, David Denton.

Replacements: Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Blair Cowan, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Weir, Sean Lamont.

Unavailable through injury: Adam Ashe (shoulder), Fraser Brown (ankle), Alex Dunbar (posterior thigh), Grant Gilchrist (groin), Henry Pyrgos (wrist), Peter Horne (foot), Matt Scott (quad), Richie Vernon (shoulder), Tim Visser (hamstring).

To welcome Scotland, Gatland announced an unchanged XV with Dan Biggar passed fit.

Wales team: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Tom James; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Scott Baldwin, Samson Lee, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton (Capt), Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Tomas Francis, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, Gareth Anscombe.

54 Responses

  1. Taylor for Scott in the centre as I ‘predicted’. Scott picked up an injury, so Lamont comes on to the bench. Is this faith by VC, or no option? Either way everything I can cross is crossed to end our miserable run against the Welsh (well everyone really). We have to believe.

  2. Same team announced with Taylor in for Scott and Lamont coming in on the bench. No surprises. Thoughts?

    1. I think that if the team performs this week then we have to keep faith and keep a settled team, if we don’t perform Vern Cotter needs to actually do what the SRU pay him to do and make some tough calls in the form of some wholesale changes.

  3. So we’ve gone from a selection headache of 2 from Taylor/Scott/Bennett/Dunbar to playing the only available two. Bench looking threadbare. Maitland, despite a stinker on Saturday, starts again (if Scott hadn’t been injured, Taylor could have come in on wing). My optimism of just 7 days ago is taking a pounding. Just hope that the side will produce some sort of ‘backs to the wall/nothing to lose’ stirring performance and the backs come to life and and fire across the board. We live in hope!

  4. I think it comes down to how hopeful are we that: (1) Laidlaw can deliver quick ball this time out, (2) the line out will function, and (3) we can catch the high ball. Beyond that, this group of players have the toolkit and regularly beat their Welsh counterparts in the Pro 12, so there is less of an aura than when playing England. COME ON!

    1. Dissapointed with Maitland being retained , just not effective and think Sean Lammont on the bench is a boost actually. Bringing that experience on for the last 20 minutes will lift Scotland and he is a menace. However , we must be within striking distance at 60 minutes. I honestly believe that Scotland have the fitnesss for the last 20 minutes given the 6 day turnaround but they need to be on top. I am optomistic but believe Scotland must win the first 20 minutes of the game to win. The last 20 should be Scotlands , but that crowd need to be silenced. I wonder what cunning tactics the Welsh will showcase this time.

      1. Agree with point about Lamont. One thing we really lacked on Saturday was a bit of crash ball. He may not be the best at many other aspects of the game, but a defensive line is always aware when he’s running into them.

      2. Interesting point about the last 20, whereas England could bring on two quality props as substitutes, same doesn’t apply to Wales. Tomas Francis is (I think) in his second season at Exeter (LS previously) so isn’t hugely experienced. Our second string front row might not have the struggles they had against England. I use the word might with caution. Now Fagerson has been blooded, if he fronts up decently we have to persist with him, long time since we have had talent that young in the front row.

  5. For those who are worried about Taylor at 12…fear not, for he is the real deal. I think he is going to make a big difference this weekend. Just hope he and Finn find the same wavelength throughout the week. I don’t think Scott and Russell ever really clicked.

    1. I agree, I don’t think Russell and Scott have ever really clicked. I’m sure someone with an anorak can confirm this but I’m pretty sure the games where Russell has been outstanding were ones where Dunbar was outside him.

      1. Yep, 1.8T. Horne and Russell also work well together. Russell needs someone that can run sharp lines up close to the gain line. Russell got isolated a lot against England because he was looking for a support runner that just wasn’t there. In general the backline passing was slow and inaccurate, players were having to check their speed to take the ball and it destroyed our momentum and made it really easy for England’s excellent defence. I think we should play Wales at their own game by putting lots of high balls up and challenging for them. Keep them suppressed in their own half and hope Biggar’s ankle effects his accuracy.

      2. Jimmy. Something guscott noticed in his analysis last week was England caught defensive high balls with two hands chest height but attacking with a straight arm one handed patting it back to a team mate. Giving them aerial advantage and momentum and of course the penalty option had a stray Scot decided to pick up the loose ball. Surely we should adopt this play? It would take away a chance of knock ons attacking wise. I’ll maybe text Stern Vern and let him know.

  6. I think on balance the majority of players deserve to set things right. Laidlaw’s comments on the BBC website about there being a small number of issues to tighten up (a couple of defensive errors and coughing up too much possession) is accurate but not new. We seem to cause problems when the forwards go through some fast drives and get quick ruck ball or recycle through off loading, but just don’t play this way enough. Lets hope the team get up a head of steam and dictate phases of play or this Wales team will overpower us.

  7. Lamont is an honest basher but has no pace for the Welsh to worry about & won’t create much, Maitland plays because there is no-one else.

    Any boys got opinions on Rory Hughes who looked better ,than I thought he was, lately.

    Haven’t rated Taylor previously but a regular (ish) member of the best team in Europe so here’s hoping.

    Alas difficult for me to see anything but misey come Saturday evening v the pragmatic, well coached, street wise Welsh

    1. Rory Hughes has been getting game time at London Scottish- well though he has played, it is light years from the English Championship to the International stage. Needs to perform consistently well for Glasgow first. He and Hoyland offer opportunities for the future.

  8. Sounds like Taylor for Scott was a last minute injury so he probably hasn’t been practising all week at inside centre. Lets hope he quickly develops some telepathy with Bennett and Russell or the Welsh centres will be targeting those channels all night! Suspect the rest of the backs will go better this weekend.

    1. Apparently Taylor was due to start against England were it not for his back injury. I think everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised with him this week. I have been watching him closely at Saracens and he has been playing out his skin for them. Excellent hands and a real physical presence.

      1. Don’t agree with the doubt about Taylor ‘practicing’. The whole squad would rotate around the positions that they might expect to fill under different circumstances, so he should be as up to speed with the plays and calls as anyone else. He has been consistently good for his club and I am expecting (desperately hoping) that Taylor will be a key inclusion. I think it’s vital that we take the lead fairly early and keep the pressure up for the full 80+ minutes. The boys need to respond strongly and positively to the Welsh scoring, and they surely will, and not let the weight of statistics drop heads. Come on!

  9. Does anyone know how badly Scott is injured? He didn’t do much going forward last week (although who did) but had a huge game defensively and would be a big loss if out for the last three games

    1. Vern in the Scotsman…

      Cotter revealed that Scott had suffered his injury at training on Wednesday. “Matt decelerated and felt something in his thigh,” he said. “He went for a scan this [Thursday] morning and it’s a slight tear.

      “Because it’s a slight tear, if this was the last game, we could strap him up and get him to play but we’ve got other games coming up and we’re hoping he’ll be available for Italy.”

  10. Will Laidlaw ever be dropped? Consistently the worst scrum-half in international rugby. How on earth is Cowan in the squad ahead of Strauss, and how did Scott ever get in ahead of Horne. Some of the squad/team choices being made seem incorrect.

    1. Neither Strauss nor Horne were fully fit going into the tournament. Both are on the bench for Glasgow tonight, so may well feature in the tournament hereafter, though Strauss has not been in great form for Glasgow. Laidlaw needs to perform at the level that saw him nominated for World player of the year. Cowan won the most turnovers in 6N 2015 and rarely performs poorly for Scotland.

      1. He should never have been nominated for world player of the year, he is a consistently poor performer and has been for a long time. He is a hangover from the period when we had no creative back-players, commentators struggled to say anything positive about the team, and so said they odd good thing about Laidlaw as they were trying to be nice. He needs to go now

  11. My concern from the England game isn’t necessarily the quality of players we had on the pitch (agreed it would be helpful if our bench in particular was stronger) but on reflection in the second half I didnt think we ever looked like winning the game. I wouldn’t necessarily put this down to whether Russell gave the pass to Hogg or Ford was more accurate at lineout time etc but the players confidence / mentality. It is the winning belief that they just don’t have and I believe the coaches acknowledge this and try to instill it through saying if we are more accurate we will win (what else can they say). My feeling is that we need more leaders/winners on the field and this isn’t just down to the captain. We should utilise Hogg’s / Russell’s confidence/arrogance (Jones is trying to do a similar thing with England) and let them take the team by the scruff of the neck. Furthermore, tell Jonny Gray you are to be Scotlands version Paul O’C and start demanding more not just honesty but a winning mentality. Equally in the forwards John Hardie on the field should say more of what he expects. I believe if there is leadership from guys who aren’t used to losing which unfortunately we are all grown accustomed to then it won’t be small errors that we bemoan as we will create further match winning opportunities. My summary is that even if Hogg had run the length of the pitch England would have created match winning opportunities which Scotland couldn’t and I feel this wasn’t down to player quality more mentality. It feels like we are the least likely team to win a narrow game which I feel tells a big story.

    1. Excellent posting Pete, I pretty much agree with all of it although I think other experienced players like Richie Gray and John Barclay should help with the leadership and get vocal (if allowed!!). Jonny Gray and Hardie are relatively new to the team we really need the experienced men to step up, get vocal and lead by example.
      Just noticed the referee…….Clancy………really!!! I hate to criticise referees but my impression is that we rarely seem to get the rub of the green with him.
      We must look after the ball around the rucks and mauls and support players making a break. Look at how the Southern Hemisphere teams, and Wales for that matter, react as a team and get supporting any half chance with speed and numbers. We never seem to.
      Good luck lads.

  12. I watched the 1988 Wales v. Scotland game on Six Nations Rewind last night. While the result went the wrong way (lost 25-20) it was remarkable how exciting the game used to be. Real adventure and dynamic play from the likes of Finlay Calder, John Jeffrey and Alan Tait. I feel that we have a very good crop of individuals and need something to click to realise their potential. Before last weeks game there weren’t many players I would have swapped from the England team yet we didn’t look like winning. This week I would take several of the Welsh team (Biggar, Roberts, North, JD2, Faluteu and Tipuric). We have to play out of our skins to win this one.

  13. Taylor has been a vital player in one of Europe’s form teams and I hope he goes well.

    If I were a pro team three quarter I would be embarrassed if Sean Lamont was ahead of me. Fantastic servant to Scotland he may be but he can’t pass, kick or step. All these lads need a rocket from their coaches. I admit he’s in because Visser, Dunbar, Scott, Horne etc are injured but he’s 35. I repeat this is not a go at him it’s a go at all those who aspire to play for Scotland.

    I think we’re going to get spanked. Really really hope I’m wrong.

    1. Lamont is massively strong and bumps/brushes off the first man he runs into every/most times, which creates space. In fact he usually takes the tackle and can stand for a second or so with his arms free to make a pass. The fact that he’s still so effective at 35 shows what a good player he is.

  14. Reading an article on this site post-6N2015 there was a line about lack of quality/depth in the back row, centre and on the wing. Back row has been improved considerably by Hardie and centre doesn’t seem to be an issue even with current injuries but the wing persists a year on. Beyond Seymour/Visser/Maitland/Lamont what do we have (assuming that any more than 2 of these are even up to it)? Dougie Fife has slipped off the radar but what about any others coming through? I believe the youngest of the above is 27. When you filter the squad on age there are plenty coming through in other positions. This could be a greater problem in years to come unless the likes of Hughes/Hoyland start breaking through very soon.

    1. Think we’re on the same page here.
      Hoyland/Hughes/Fife/Brown these guys need to stay fit and start playing well. I suppose 2 slots at Glasgow are blocked by Hogg and big T(for now) and being an outside back at Edinburgh isn’t the busiest job in the world but these guys need to stake a claim. Think DF may have blotted his rep for good in Paris and in various Edin games but the other guys are still new to BVC. Hopefully no one will cite their size as an issue because according to stats DH and Jack Nowell are virtually the same size and Nowell seems to cope alright.

      1. Hoyland has great potential and Jamie Farndale has to come into the equation at some point, surely.
        In other news – Visser is starting for Harlequins this weekend, so may be available later in the 6N.
        In other other news – Adam Hastings is starting for Bath this weekend, where he’s playing outside Matawalu – talk about a baptism of fire! He had great composure in the U20s win over England though. Hope he does well.

      2. Nowell is about two stone heavier than Hoyland. Threes also more to it than just size or Nikki Walker would have been our Joe Rococoko!!

    1. Congratulations. Once again you are the clear winner in our ” Fool of the Day ” award.

  15. Mike Linds,

    I’m aware of Rory Hughes’s “adventures” in Richmond & watched the Glasgow game last week with interest.

    Maitland, when he arrived in Scotland he played like what we hoped he was – an All Black, however since then he has reverted to the feeling he provoked in NZ, namely a nearly man, nearly a good player/winger. I like Maitland but tomorrow is time for him to start showing why he was picked for the Lions.

  16. Quite a few Edinburgh players putting their hands up for a future cap tonight.
    Hope Big Vern had his VCR set to record.

    1. Not sure what game you were watching. Depends on the timescale you define as future. Cornell apart, no-one. Toolis, perhaps. Hoyland, yes, not now, in the future. Sutherland, but he needs to kick on. Watson, very promising, but soooooo far behind Hardie. Rather disappointed Embra couldn’t make do without Kinghorn and Ritchie- might have made all the difference in Wales, that to my mind was more important.

      1. Thought Tom Brown was superb, really smart play. Hamish played a blinder (apart from that stupid penalty, and the backchat) As you say though you wouldn’t swap him for Hardie.

        (Disclaimer – I had been drinking, so judgement may have been impaired)

  17. Time to turn that Six Nations corner, boys. We’ve got the will and skill to do it today. Come on, Scotland!

  18. With the paucity of options in the back 3 I reckon Tom Brown has a chance of being brought into the 6N squad. What has been previously said about Maitland must make BVC have to consider replacing Maitland with Visser or Brown

  19. Why kick every time. Even off turn over ball with numbers. And we so need a good hooker.

  20. A gutsy & excellent effort, however whenever Hogg went off I accepted that we had NO chance, we did very well to keep the game close but the squad is so thin its frightening. Our 1st 15 is actually fairly formidable but any injuries . absences really weaken us.
    Seymour had a brilliant game, Hogg looked very dangerous before his exit. Taylor looks a different player to the guy 2 seasons ago.
    We can still beat France, Italy & maybe Ireland……………………or can we

    1. My feelings exactly. I don’t know who said what to Seymour, but he was unrecognisable from the guy who played England. Taylor should start in front of Scott even if Scott is fit. Loads of blunders, but very much better than last week.

  21. After that start….decent performance if not result but if we had Maitand, Visser, Dunbar and Gilchrist all available and Hogg lasted 80 we’d have won.

  22. Another 6N defeat, but no disgrace. For me the match turned on loss of possession in the Wales 22 at 60 mins. From 16-13 up to 27-16 down in 8 minutes. Such a shame because we were well in this for so much of the Test, surely 65% of it in the Welsh half?

  23. Refs seem to have more of a say on the out come of Scotland’s games ? More than the team we play against

  24. How many penalties did Wales give Way? Then we lose the line out after the penalty! How many times did that happen?

  25. Nichol at half time questioned the Welsh try (as did Williams and Guscott) and wondered whether that would be the diff between the teams. It was. Clancy rushed that decision – as he is wanton to do (e.g., Italy v England at Twickers a few years back when he called a knock on from the Eyeties whereas it was clearly from England, just as they were about to score the crucial try, and despite Nigel Owens’ TJ intervention to no avail). His reffing of the scrum was amateur to boot. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t blame our loss on him cos it doesn’t exactly help that our subs didn’t work and we chose to kick aimlessly for a while in the 2nd half – but, it doesn’t help the cause!

    Nuff said on that.

    It was great game for the neutral and we clearly have it in us to win a 6 N match. Surely our time is coming soon. Please, oh rugby Lords, let it be!

  26. Sigh… Actually I thought that was a pretty enjoyable match though, the little ariel ping pong match in the middle was embarrassingly bad but we weren’t any worse than Wales who are usually excellent at high balls.

    I hope Hogg is ok as he was on fire prior to his injury. Tommy Seymour was a man reinvented, fair play for coming back from a fairly shambolic performance last week. To be fair the backs in general were much better, Laidlaw was much sharper and quicker but still some questionable decisions, we got quite a lot of turnover ball that we subsequently booted away, silly. Duncan Taylor deserves to start, totally different guy to the anonymous one from a couple of years ago, I don’t really follow English rugby so am fairly oblivious to his exploits at Sarries.

    As for the forwards, surely this has to be ross ford’s last chance, he can’t throw into the line out and he can’t hook, surely one of the others can at least do one of those things? The grays put in a shift as usual, hardie was brilliant, he does a power of work at the breakdown and slowed down Wales ball on numerous occasions, Barclay was all over it aswell. Denton was pretty anonymous, where’s his big carries? Is a backrow of Cowan Barclay and Hardie a step too far?

    Our biggest problem is while the 1st 15 is on paper at least is a very good team, the bench and rest of the squad look worryingly thin. WP Nel didn’t have his best game but the replacement front row scares me. Shout out to Jackson who I thought was pretty good, unfortunate with that step into touch but had some good runs. Strange decision to bring on Weir at the end, I would have stuck with Russell, Weir is the type of player you bring on to close out a match or steady the ship not one you bring on to try and conjour 2 tries out of nowhere in 5 mins.

    Ach well same old glorious defeat in a much improved performance. I haven’t seen anything from Ireland, France or Italy that should give us cause for concern.

  27. I’ve not had the chance to review the game on tv yet so this is just an initial stadium (poor seat) impression. I thought the first Welsh try had a hint of offside about it. Some you get others are ‘Clancied’. I felt the boys made some poor decisions, but will admit I screamed a ‘why’ when Finn kicked ahead but was content to see Seymour score in the end. Overall the boys were not far off a win but it, once again, ends in a ‘could have’ defeat. Sooooooo frustrating.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion