Wales v Scotland: Six Nations 2020, Match Preview pt I (redux)

KO 2.15 at Parc y Scarlets
Saturday 31st October 2020

Live on BBC1

The outbreak starts. Wales v Scotland on 14th March 2020 is scrapped.

28 days + 28 weeks* later…

This time last year Wales were in a World Cup semi-final. Meanwhile, Scotland were already back home after a chastening defeat to Japan saw them leave the tournament in the group stages. What a difference a year could make though…

Defeat for Wales on Saturday would see them finish with a 1 win and 4 losses record which would be their worst showing in a Six Nations since 2007, when only a 27-18 victory against England in the final round saved them from a whitewash.

Triumph for Scotland would take them to 3 wins in the Six Nations for the third time in the last 4 seasons, having only achieved that feat once before (in 2005). While it might not seem like much to fans of sides who have managed Grand Slams and championships, long-suffering Scottish supporters would surely recognise more small steps in the right direction.

Wales Scouting Report

The Match Preview and Scouting Report ahead of the original fixture in March are here. Seven months may have passed but given the lack of rugby played most of the original points should still be relevant. Last week’s game against France proved that Nick Tompkins still gets his hands on the ball an awful lot (and distributed almost as much as his stand off – which doesn’t quite chime with Eddie Jones’ recently espoused “running back” thesis when it comes to centres).

The game against France didn’t go too well if the Welsh were looking to hang in and take advantage of their superior fitness though, and it was the French who stretched away in the final quarter of the game. The fractured nature of the coronavirus affected calendar hasn’t made for perfect preparation for either side – but Scotland for one will be delighted if the Welsh aren’t conditioned to bring their usual relentless, disruptive linespeed to proceedings.

The Case for the Defence

Wales nilled Italy in their first game of the post-Sean Edwards’ era but since then they’ve conceded 4 tries to Ireland; 3 to France; 3 to England; and then another 5 to France last week. Without their defensive maestro in the coaching box has there been a drop in intensity?

Scottish fans, coaches and players will certainly hope so. Stifling defence has been the order of the day on previous visits to Wales with the dark blues only notching 1, 1, 2, 0, 1, 2 and 0 tries on their trips to the Principality Stadium in the Edwards and Gatland era. Different venue. Different coaches. Hopefully a different outcome for Scotland.

Miscellaneous stats from Wales’ last game

  • Wales kicked the ball 32 times against France – the third game in a row they’ve kicked the ball 30+ times. That comes from across the backline with good variety but it does require an exceptionally disciplined chase to avoid presenting opportunities to the opposition.
  • 86% tackle completion. Very un-Welsh like numbers in this area. The French pack were mobile and aggressive. The French backs were elusive and unstructured. Can Scotland do something similar?
  • 4 penalties conceded. Remarkable discipline and very possibly this, allied to France coughing up 16 penalties, is what kept Wales in the match until the last quarter, despite being outplayed in almost every area.

Previous results

This will be the 11th time the two sides have met in Wales for a Six Nations’ match. The head to head looks like this from Scotland’s perspective:

L W L L L L L L L L

Most recent Six Nations meeting in Wales:

Wales 34 – 7 Scotland

Do not watch the ‘highlights’ above – honestly, don’t do it to yourself. The Scottish Rugby Blog match report from that game is here.

Officials

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referee 1:  Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referee 2: Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)

Mr Brace should feel right at home, having been born down the road in Cardiff. As an Irish ref, who played international rugby for Belgium he certainly demonstrates the maxim that nationality is not a fixed concept in the modern world!

Mr Brace only has a solitary game refereeing Scotland behind him (against Fiji in 2018) but should be a familiar face to Glasgow and Edinburgh players after 5 years officiating in the PRO14. Recent seasons have seen Mr Brace undergo something of a conversion. In his early days, he was keen to whip the cards out but in the most recent completed campaign, he had become the official least likely to dish out yellows or reds in the league. Scotland have a poor record around sin bins and sending offs in Wales so here’s hoping the Irish whistler is feeling tolerant on Saturday.

The Teams

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Shane Lewis-Hughes, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Sam Parry, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Cory Hill, James Davies, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Patchell, Nick Tompkins.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (capt), Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, James Lang, Blair Kinghorn, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Blade Thomson.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Oli Kebble, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Cornell du Preez, Scott Steele, Adam Hastings, Duhan van der Merwe.


* plus, rather inconveniently for fans of zombie movie references, another 7 days

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When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out the most obscure Scottish rugby related stat he can put out on Twitter.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

88 comments on “Wales v Scotland: Six Nations 2020, Match Preview pt I (redux)

  1. Dobie on

    I would recommend a read the comments in the blog from the 34-7 meeting. On one level , it is a great read and humorous. But if you read the quotes and consider what has happened since, it is uncanny.

    ‘Scotland ranked 5th humiliated by Wales ranked 7th’. Now we are in Tier 3 of the RWC draw.

    ‘Leaving out Bennett, who has played in a World Cup QF, for Harris was madness’. We have left out a lot more than Bennett for Harris since then. ‘Jones showed all his class, this lot will not be long in robbing him of that.’

    However , I remain confident we have finally turned a corner. Good article Kevin.

    Reply
    • Isaac MacDonald on

      “We have finally turned a corner” should be the phrase etched on every Scottish rugby supporter’s headstone…

      Reply
      • Referendum on

        Indeed it should and we can’t say anything till we do although 3 wins in 3 of 4 years is definitely a part of the bend for sure….

    • Referendum on

      Dobie….

      I never had an issue with Harris in that he like Duncan Taylor took a few caps to settle in and that has to happen at some point as everyone starts with zero caps.

      But it was the away game in Wales first up in six nations putting Jones out of position and bringing Harris in from nowhere was asking for trouble and we got it. That argument still stands up and will always even if Harris gets 79 caps caps and wins the world cup for Scotland on his own.

      Reply
    • TENC on

      They sure did rob him of all his class. It just goes to show you , implanting a great player and hoping the rest will come up to his level will never work. It can only go the other.

      Reply
  2. Lochinverboy on

    Well they are mostly all fit. Locks must be Gray and Cummings though Toolis had a stormer. Skinner in the back row with Ritchie and Wilson. Price as his kicking is better than Horne’s. Ten must be Russell. Why play one of our best tens at centre? Centres will be the Toony tombola. Johnson if he is fit. Matt Scott would have done just fine, but hey ho. Outside centre probably Harris. Though Taylor, Hutchinson or Jones would be a better cutting edge, if fit.
    Hogg Graham and De Merve. But that team would have still got beaten using the expansive old Townsend style. Tandy and De Villiers have transformed our team. Good that Townsend has evolved and is now listening. A huge difference. The best defence in the 6N? What a platform. Go the boys.

    Reply
    • john on

      Lochinverboy,
      ….Good that Townsend has evolved and is now listening….. I was all for replacing GT after the utterly hapless RWC campaign. However either he’s evolved, listened, learnt or maybe got lucky with Sutherland & Z.Fagerson starting to excel. We need to do the basics perfectly, scrum, line outs (alas that means Toolis starts for me). Haining gives front foot ball so he starts with Watson & Ritchie. I can see GTs thinking (having a big physical laddie @ 13) but Huw Jones is in brilliant form & given Wales are playing much more rugby than under Gatland he must start, we have VDM for the heavy carrying from the backs. SHC must be very near the 23 now. We will get opportunities to win, we need to take them

      Reply
      • Saint4805 on

        I think Steve Tandy coming in and shoring up the defence has been instrumental. Peter de Villiers has also done good work around the scrum. I just hope we can maintain the same improved defence AND see some of the old attacking verve return as opposed to being strong in one or the other.

      • James on

        Agreed, backline looks pretty good but there’s definitely a new look to the pack. However the opportunity to boss the forwards is going to require all the players to front up with controlled aggression. Too often our players have looked a bit soft compared to other top teams. And there is still the Alun Wyn Jones effect to factor in as well – a leader that seems to get the best from his players, something we’ve not had for a very long time.

  3. Neil on

    Wales team announced – experienced backline, potentially weak pack, could be an opportunity to bully wales up front here… lots of inexperienced players

    Reply
    • MK on

      Inexperienced maybe, Rowlands and Lewis-Hughes are big units though, been brought in to provide some muscle, forecast to be dreadful weather too, could be an arm wrestle which recently we haven’t done so well in

      Reply
      • TeamCam on

        Yeah, looks like their pack’s 21kgs heavier, with 10 of those coming in the front five. But we’ve done just fine in arm wrestles this year. For once I’m not concerned that our forwards will get smashed.

  4. john on

    Well GT has surprised us all. He’s the manager. Win & its the right team selection, lose & its not.
    Funny old selection IMO. VDM not playing the biggest eyebrow raiser

    Reply
    • Fraser on

      VDM has only played 1 game against a poor team, not unreasonable not to play him in this game – just wish it wasn’t Kinghorn instead…

      Reply
  5. Scotty on

    A couple of curveballs from Toony.

    I guess, even though Johnson played 80 on Sunday, Toony wants him to have a bit more game time. Kinghorn over Duhan was unexpected but the latter will make a good impact sub and is still a bit internationally fresh for such a big game. Quite pleased to see Thomson over haining who has been off the boil. Feel for Skinner but Toolis played well last week. Undoubtedly harshest call is no G Horne.

    I know we have 5 games on the bounce and these lads will get their chance but I would’ve liked us to go full noise on this match as such a rare chance to get a win in Wales and I just don’t see this as our full first 23.

    Reply
  6. Fraser on

    Forwards are fine, backs are a big disappointment – sticking with Lang and Harris after a poor performance last week and having Kinghorn on the wing when he is really out of form at the moment (and possibly just not good enough).

    Biggest shock is no George Horne on the bench when he looked so good last week when he came on.

    Hopefully Russell can fire up the backline but it just doesn’t look at all exciting.

    Reply
    • Alanyst on

      Agree…I wish we had consistency in the backs selections.

      Otherwise it’s been too much pick and mix. We should know the best combos by now…the team hasn’t changed that much.

      For my two cents Russell needs a potent threat at outside centre to keep the defence honest, like he does at Racing.

      Otherwise the Welsh will be up in our faces all day and Russell’s flat passing game will be nullified, so it’ll be 50/50 grubbers and chips to the wings.

      Harris is not a potent threat…from the players available this could (should?) be Jones.

      Reply
      • Fraser on

        Exactly – we need people that can make the most of what Russell does. With this team really it’s Graham and Hogg who offer something special. Runs the risk of Hogg having to try and do everything himself.

        Jones has looked very sharp in attack at Glasgow.

        Fingers crossed but not the team I would have liked to see.

      • Munro on

        Could not agree with you more Alanyst. There will be too much pressure on Finn ( and Hogg to some extent ) with the bland centre pairing on display. They can tackle but that’s about it.

      • James on

        I’d also argue that with attention focused on Russell there’s a chance of gaps inside him for a sniping 9 to exploit which feels like Horne rather than Price. I don’t understand Horne being dropped.

  7. Thin Russell on

    Typical Townsend, always seams to not quite get it right. The centre pairing did nothing to show they are the way forward last week and Kinghorn butchered so many chances against good opposition he could cost us the game. Still this is not a good welsh side and they are low on confidence we on the other hand are not. The pack however looks good with some good options off the bench so fingers crossed.

    Reply
  8. Munro on

    Depressing – I honestly cannot remember the last time I looked at a Townsend Scotland side and thought I agree with it or I get it . I’m always left wondering what’s he on?
    Lang, Harris and Kinghorn selected when we have so many better options – at 12 & 13 especially. I fear we have handed a game we could have won to Wales.

    Reply
  9. Rory Baldwin on

    I agree there are some odd decisions in there, I think the pack is very strong even with Blade a bit of an unknown entity in a Scotland shirt. First time in a while I’m more excited about the forward selection than the backs. Be interesting to see Kevin’s head to head matchups tomorrow.

    Reply
    • Not science on

      Like the pack including Blade. Though always prefer McInally.

      Do not understand if this is meant to be some sort of genius defensive master stroke in the midfield. Difficult to criticise, because no one sees these two enough, and neither is a shoe in for their Premiership teams, let alone at international level. May be what it is on its face, stupid.

      Also VDM clearly the best option to be running hard onto Russell passes.

      Reply
  10. Craig on

    Good team really, a lot of the times I read names people want selected for center and find myself thinking I have stepped into the year 2017

    DVM still has a bit of work to do on the defensive side before he is thrown into games like this with the weather predicted, Wales would have went after him.

    Reply
  11. Pete on

    Slightly surprised by the level of negativity re this selection. Starting with the selection of Thomson I feel with the Scarlets games I have seen he is the form 8 with Fagerson injured – dont think Haining is playing as well as pre lockdown and du Preez was ok when he came on last week but not to the level that he became an automatic selection. I think the weather forecast has an impact on selection at wing and Kinghorn is stronger under the high ball. I feel we have to give Laing a chance as he is playing well for Quins and this is the exact type of game for Harris where conditions will limit an expansive game plan. Will be great to see Jones back involved but not convinced his attacking threat will be as important in the predicted conditions.

    Reply
    • Saint4805 on

      I think the weather forecast may have impacted the selection at 8 too. Blade is excellent under the high ball and is probably the safe pair of hands we need at kick-off and re-starts. We need to avoid gifting territory with careless knock-ons.

      Reply
  12. Johnny b on

    I’m a big fan of Jones (and Bennett) but Lang’s been on the radar for a while. At Quins he’s considered capable of covering 10-13. He’s a good footballer with a massive boot and good distribution but above all he’s a very physical defender.

    Toonie obviously sees intensity in defence as a weakness which needs to be addressed. It doesn’t surprise me he’s come in considering his form and the partnership with Harris – not much is going to get past it…

    I’m not as bothered about Kinghorn v VDM as others. VDM is on the bench and Kinghorn was a big prospect until recently, he still is! VDM will get his chance.

    Good to see Finn back and congrats to Scott Steele who’s definitely done this the hard way.

    Reply
  13. john on

    Alanyst…….agree 100%, Finn is absolutely brilliant & he brings attackers into the game , no disrespect to Harris (a solid strong player) or Kinghorn but does anyone believe (inc Finn himself) that it shouldn’t be Jones & VDM running onto his passes?? However give GT respect, win this game & we have improved (& my armchair (well corner sofa) ramblings can be ignored), however……

    Reply
  14. Craig on

    What are Finn’s best displays for Scotland?

    Australia away,he is outstanding, Taylor and Dunbar,
    England at home, Horne and Jones,
    England away, Grigg and Johnson,
    New Zealand at home, Dunbar and Jones.

    The them I see in that is it doesn’t make an arse bit of difference who is playing outside him or the stereotype of what is expected of the center next to him.

    As well as those centers those displays have all featured the likes of Tonks, Lee Jones, Rory Hughes, McGuigan, I am really not convinced the idea of he must have player x around him makes that big a difference, when he is on it he can excel the display of most players.

    His link play with Harris which led to the Graham try v England shows what happens when you have centers who play in other ways, you just adapt and change.

    Reply
    • Scotty on

      Correct. As long as Finn has a dominant forward pack with some front foot ball he’ll shine.

      The concern is that the centres won’t be able to finish what he starts. Perhaps Lang and Harris are there to build steady phase play rather than hope Jones gets a miracle 80m try?!

      Reply
      • Craig on

        I think a fair bit of what Harris does in attack is pretty underrated personally,

        A few decent examples.

        His work in the second Maitland try v France,

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt69hhyKEGc

        His work to score a try v France in the summer, shows his ability to cut a line.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt69hhyKEGc

        Which he also showed coming off 10 in Italy.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jafG8k5cccI

        His reverse pass after offering the thread of a hard line which leads to the Graham try in the corner at Twickenham is sublime,

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRx3KrQ83mc&t=292s

        I appreciate it isn’t the glamour the Jones break which leads to the Maitland try v England but it is offence which is more sustainable built within structure a side can repeat over and over to the point it becomes easier to utilize than what was perhaps a one in a life time try.

      • Chris on

        Yeah, it is just hard to replicate that,

        Harris has now been involved in a lot of attacking work that just seems a lot easier to do at repetition.

        Try v Italy, comes of a run from 10, try v France of 9, his work leads to the Maitland try v France, he links with Finn to put Darcy in v England,

        it is all in better structure.

    • Big Al on

      For all those wins except Australia away Finn was playing with his club mates at 12 and 13 so even if they swapped around positions they knew each others games inside out from time at Glasgow. 10/12/13 familiarity is definitely an advantage.

      Reply
  15. Johnny b on

    Toonie has maybe sacrificed some of the flair in the midfield backs for intensity, workrate and physicality in defence.
    There is still flair there though with Finn, Graham, Hogg and Kinghorn.
    It will be interesting to see if the balance is right.

    Reply
  16. Big Al on

    I think this selection is more defense focused than attack minded as evidenced by the defensive midfield and the wing selection. Weather forecast isnt great so at least match them up front, stop them coming through the middle and then they’ll kick to our wings. Toony is then hoping that our back 3 are better than their back 3 in the air! Actually think Kinghorn is in for catching and kicking ability as Wales are also playing with 2 full backs.

    Reply
    • Lochinverboy on

      That’s it in a nutshell. A very strong pack and defensive midfield. Thomson is strong in the lineout too. It will be a kicking game hence no G Horne. Toonie learning that pragmatism needs to be used when conditions demand.

      Reply
    • AMW on

      Really don’t understand why you see it as particularly defence minded given the inclusion of two wingers who scored last week, one being a prodigious scorer, and arguably the best attacking full back in world rugby. With Finn at 10, we will always be an attacking threat and as someone rightly said earlier Harris fits really well now into our attack structures.

      Reply
  17. SlowWalk90 on

    It was encouraging in the earlier part of the six nations to see the improvements that we made in defence with Steve Tandy’s systems in place. I suspect the back selections are influenced by how well individuals are fitting into that structure, but it is frustrating to consider the back line we could have had against this one. Personally, I think it would look better with any of G. Horne, VDM, Maitland, Johnson, Scott, Jones or even Bennett involved.

    It’s not like it’s a bad team though. The pack looks really good, and I’m happy to see Thomson selected as I suspected Gregor would have gone for Du Preez.

    The bench is not what it could have been. I think its a clear mistake to select Berghan on the bench over WP, and I can’t understand why Horne isn’t in the 23. I’d also have selected Skinner there ahead of Du Preez to cover the back 5.

    Reply
  18. Toony Tunes on

    You never seen that side coming ! did you ? Did anyone actually select that 23 ? Nope , only one man picks the team.That is all folks !

    Reply
    • TENC on

      IMO you are not to be taken seriously Toony Tunes , but it is strange that a well informed and knowledgeable rugby community never nailed the starting team. Some made comments comparing and contrasting the options , but not one got it exactly right.

      The only thing that is consistent about Toony is his unpredictable and unconventional approach to team selection.

      Personally , I think this is a simple game being made overcomplicated. I hope we win, this 6N table needs to evidence improvement to underpin the feel good factor which as arisen from the ashes of the RWC burn out.

      Reply
  19. WilkyBoiYaBass on

    Do folk not get bored typing the same thing every week? We get it. You think Huw Jones is great and G. Horne should start. You might even be right but it’s so tedious to read in every comments section every week…

    Reply
  20. Sam Laycock on

    some odd decisions, if you’re going to play Thomson why not give him a game last week, ditto for steele it’s not like either is really experienced with Scotland. and if you’re expecting bad weather surely Nel with his more upright stance will go better than bergan who struggles to keep his feet even on the firmest surface? oh well Toony obviously really rates Lang and we do need more depth at 12. I hope the horses for courses thing is right and he’s learned from the england game. Kinghorn over VDM on the wing. I get that VDM has weaknesses but I’m not convinced that Kinghorn doesn’t share them without so much of the pro’s.

    head to head I’d probably give it to Wales. really hope i’m wrong.

    Reply
  21. Fraser on

    Half of me can accept the whole “defensive team picked for the conditions’ argument.
    The other half of me suspects that the same team would have been picked on a hot summers day and that this is just Townsends first choice team (barring injuries etc.).

    I also think that if we aspire to be a really good team, the conditions shouldn’t stop us playing decent rugby – we won’t win just be kicking all our possession away and trying to play territory, we have seen that fail time and time again.

    Russell can certainly still throw the ball around in poor conditions as he has shown again in recent weeks.

    Sure, there should be more kicking and tactical play in poor conditions but I really hope we keep hold of the ball as much as possible – our forwards are more than capable of working through the phases, then releasing the backs when it’s on.

    Hopefully Russell has some say in this as he has clearly seen what hasn’t worked in the past and tried to change it.

    Reply
  22. JK on

    Bit bizarre… Horne dropped. Nel still not in the 23. Lang over Johnson. Blade Thomson. Kinghorn over VDM. Not convinced but hope I’m wrong.

    Reply
  23. WilkyBoiYaBass on

    Johnson is obviously 1st choice 12. The fact that he’s not been picked clearly shows he he’s not quite fully fit yet despite having played a game for Glasgow. We’ve been stung before picking centres who aren’t fully fit on reputation.
    After him who is there? Scott’s not in the squad and Jones and Russell aren’t out and out 12s. That leaves Lang. He’ll need to be given a run of games eventually in case Johnson goes down againagain anyway.

    Reply
    • will on

      Huw Jones was obviously first choice 13 and look what happened there l, i suspect we may not see Johnson very often in a scotland shirt anymore

      Reply
      • TENC on

        Now now , perhaps but not an unfounded prediction. At least Will backed his opinion up with an example and there are others out there ? The Scottish Rugby changing room has had revolving doors fitted since 2017. There comes a time when you need to pick a side and play them, for better or worse IMO.

      • FF on

        In the presser Toonie said Johnson isn’t match fit after one game and 7 months off – he said we’ll see him return in the autumn internationals.

      • Bass Rock on

        I see no problem with Toony excluding Johnson. Who would take a gamble on a man who has been out for so long. Ah yes, Toony might, he has done so before. But not this time. That is progress. He is learning , slowly.

        IMO we just give the psychological advantage to the other side when we reach back to a man with a recent sicknote and overlook the fit capable players. You might as well verbalise it in the press saying , ‘we are not good enough’. What kind of message is that to send to the 46 men on the pitch?

        What is worrying is that this is so obvious , it is nothing to do with rugby. It is basic man management, you learn that one , early in your career, not this late.

      • Craig on

        I would be pretty surprised if that happens re Johnson, Jones stopped being first choice at 13 because his form completely fell off a cliff at both International and club level.

  24. Referendum on

    Very different pack from say 3 years ago. Only one or two different max in the backs for Wales. Amazing what a coach can do I suppose….here’s hoping we turn up in each of the first 15 mins unlike usual Welsh in Wales Scotland matches.

    Had to look twice to see Horne not there….bit harsh I think especially when he is great off the bench bringing pace to it all. Thomson in from nowhere too.

    What do people who see him regularly think of Horne senior at present. I know many don’t think he is any good anyway but seriously has he been catching the eye at all? I don’t understand why he is not considered or in and around the squad same with Scott and I know Bennet is probably not in form but I think one of them should be there or there abouts. Lang I hope we don’t pay for that not that he can’t develop but he has zero experience at this level.

    Reply
  25. Kilted Kiwi on

    Fraser Brown is the wrong pick. Made to look good last week against week opposition. VDM will be good off the bench, if he starts the Welsh will bang up high ball after high ball at him.
    Hoping for a win!

    Reply
    • TENC on

      I am old fashioned, think rugby is a game to be won with ball in hand so as long as they kick it away , they are no longer in possession. The trouble is Toony tells them to kick it right back, like at Twickenham. We clawed the game back in the second half when Russell pointed out that giving the ball away would not work and took matters into his own hands. That is where the trouble all began IMO.

      Reply
      • Bass Rock on

        Agree , they can kick the leather off it all day, as long as we get right back at them and hold the ball. Not a difficult concept.

  26. Delboy on

    Don’t want to be the pessimist but I’ll go for Wales by a score. It’s not been a happy hunting ground for us in nearly 2 decades now. We’ve lost the momentum from earlier in the tournament, the desperation to end their losing run,the landmark for AWJ and deaths of JJ Williams and his brother will drive them on enough to see out a win. I think the lack of guile in our centres will be the key point, the Welsh will be able to target and close Russel down as the threat outside him is limited to a hit up. I think as a defender you can’t afford to take your eyes off Jones, Scott or Bennet.
    Otherwise I’m happy with the team.

    Reply
    • Bass Rock on

      The risk is Ally Price, the welsh intercepted his pass 2 years ago and he did the exact same again for Glasgow weeks later. That is a mental burden to overcome. Good luck to Ally P. I agree, there will be no crowd thankfully, but I can see them being fired up.

      Reply
  27. AMW on

    I think this is a very good starting 15 and a strong bench. Ill be interested in seeing the head to heads but I think it will be close, with our bench fractionally stronger. I like Harris. My heart does not skip a beat any longer when attacks launch into our midfield. He doesn’t leak tries. Our back three are on fire at the moment. Really excited also about our pack. There is great continuity with some players really peaking – Cummings, Gray, Watson, Fagerson. The replacement front row is also strong (fingers crossed Berghan is disciplined). Good balance to this team now and leadership that are winners!

    Reply
  28. Historic Banffshire on

    As ever GT has confounded us all. I have tried to reconcile his decisions and have come up with:
    Knghorn to mitigate the aerial threat, VDM as impact against a tiring defence.
    Johnson not as match fit as he would like and feels Lang gives a balance of ballast and a genuine 10/12 mix at 12. The plan must be for Hastings to come on for Lang after 50-60 mins.
    Thomson I am actually ok with, he is a savvy player and less likely to go missing that Du Preez. Good link man with the backs.
    Horne-all I can ask is this – when are you comfortable actually bringing on Horne in a big Test? -when you are either down or up by 10 points. That’s not really a tactic. Maybe Steele has more control in his locker, but I’ve never seen him play.
    These are a combination of my own thoughts and my interpretation of GT’s logic….happy to be shot down or otherwise, but either way, we have a great chance on Saturday, I just hope we keep the heid and do ourselves justice…..in the cauldron of Parc Y Scarlet.

    Reply
  29. septic 9 on

    diving rain in gale force winds.

    Imagine the flak the same folk would have chucked at Townsend had he picked a team to obviously run everything.

    Think there are a number on here who will be applying for the job when Toonie eventually moves on, such is their insight

    Reply
    • Historic Banffshire on

      Septic 9, I’m not sure if that’s you shooting me down or not, but I think we’re coming from the same place…!
      Sounds like it will be dry but windy, so hopefully Finn chooses his moments for the crazy gang moves…..enjoy your game.

      Reply
    • TENC on

      Absolute Bobbins – Townsend got what he wanted and has never delivered, so he will not move on when it is obvious to everyone , except the deluded, he has no track record to offer.

      Reply
  30. Nessie on

    I am quietly confident that we can do it. I think our forwards can give us an edge and hope our back 3 can cope with the aerial bombardment. It will be tight and we will need to kick the pens. Finn seldom kicks for Racing now. H Nelson anyone……

    Reply

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