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Wales v Scotland: Six Nations 2022, Match Preview pt II

Wales vs Scotland

9 of the Scots and 8 of the Welshman who started last season’s fixture at Murrayfield are back in the respective XVs for this clash at the Principality Stadium. Elsewhere there has been pretty major surgery on both squads with 21 players involved who didn’t feature in 2021.

The dark blues will feel their changes have broadly strengthened their lineup while their hosts have been denuded of some of their most important players. Scotland have to deal with the weight of history being against them however, having lost 15 of their last 18 games against Wales in the Six Nations, including all 8 fixtures played at the Principality Stadium in that spell…

Tale of the tape

BACKS
60   
Tries   59
91kg
   Average weight   95kg
306   
Total caps   266
127   
6N caps   131
4   B&I Lions   5
29.5   
Average age   27.9

FORWARDS
887kg
   Pack weight   910kg
13   
Tries   26
226   
Total caps   287
83   
6N caps   124
4   B&I Lions   1
28.2  
Average age   29.4

SUBSTITUTES
34   
Tries   20
263   Total caps   126
99   
6N caps   56
2   B&I Lions   2
29.0   
Average age   25.5

5 changes to Scotland starting XV from last Test (v England)

  • 12 – Tuipulotu for Johnson [=]
  • 1 – Schoeman for Sutherland [=]
  • 2 – McInally for Turner []
  • 3 – Nel for Fagerson []
  • 6 – Skinner for Ritchie []

Head-to-Head

WALES
Liam Williams
Alex Cuthbert
Owen Watkin
Nick Tompkins
L Rees-Zammit
Dan Biggar (c)
Tomos Williams

Wyn Jones
Ryan Elias
Tomas Francis
Will Rowlands
Adam Beard
Taine Basham
Jac Morgan
Ross Moriarty

Dewi Lake
Gareth Thomas
Dillon Lewis
Seb Davies
A Wainwright
Gareth Davies
Callum Sheedy
Jonathan Davies


ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
EVEN
EVEN
ADV Scotland

ADV Wales
ADV Scotland
EVEN
ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
ADV Wales
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland

ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Wales
ADV Wales
ADV Wales
EVEN

SCOTLAND
Stuart Hogg (c)
Darcy Graham
Chris Harris
Sione Tuipulotu
D van der Merwe
Finn Russell
Ali Price

Pierre Schoeman
Stuart McInally
WP Nel
Jonny Gray
Grant Gilchrist
Sam Skinner
Hamish Watson
Matt Fagerson

George Turner
Rory Sutherland
Zander Fagerson
Magnus Bradbury
Rory Darge
Ben White
Blair Kinghorn
Cameron Redpath

Backs – advantage Scotland

There are certainly plenty of Lions on show from both sides, although Alex Cuthbert’s credentials come from an earlier generation. The veteran Welsh wing has been around a while and bagged his very first Test try against Scotland. That was a decade ago – 12 February 2012 – in the very same game that Stuart Hogg made his international debut in.

Both sides have seen a change in midfield. Owen Watkins’s inclusion for the home side provides a more natural fit than Josh Adams at outside centre and should take some defensive pressure off Nick Tompkins. If Scotland can hang on to possession in early phases a bit better than they did against England then Sione Tuipulotu at 12 gives them a power carrying option – but one with more than decent distribution and offloading as well.

Forwards – advantage Scotland

Wales are missing 5 forwards who were part of the most recent Lions’ tour. Although if all 5 were able to play the average age of the Welsh pack would be over 31 years old – there’s surely a better chance of Saturday’s group making it to the 2023 RWC, in which case experience now could be vital.

Advantages in both size and experience for Scotland’s eight have been rare indeed when tackling the Welsh. The visitors have frequently found themselves being beaten up in the forwards battle at the Principality, leaving talented backlines with precious little decent ball to attack with. This year’s selection up front has to take the battle to Wales at the breakdown and setpiece if an away victory is to be secured.

Subs – advantage Scotland

Gregor Townsend seems to be taking some inspiration from world champions, South Africa, and he’ll be hoping Scotland’s very own Bam Squad can deliver from the bench.

Miscellany 

– Stuart Hogg makes his 89th start for the national side, moving him past the tally of Ross Ford and meaning only Chris Paterson (96) and Sean Lamont (93) remain ahead of him.

– Alun Wyn Jones hasn’t missed a fixture between these two sides since 2012, when Scotland’s locks were Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton (with Al Kellock on the bench).

– Scotland are looking for a 5th consecutive away win in the Six Nations. The only time they have achieved that feat in either the Five or Six Nations was a sequence of victories between 1925 and 1927.

– The last time Rory Sutherland made an appearance from the bench for Scotland was in June 2016.

– 2 players coming into the 23 matches the fewest number of changes made to a squad for any game during the Townsend era. This is just the 2nd time in the last 41 matches that no players have come into the Scottish starting XV from outside the 23 for the previous Test match.

Jamie Ritchie had only missed one other game for Scotland since the 2019 RWC. Coincidentally this was also against Wales – in the 2021 Six Nations.

– This will be Ali Price’s 20th consecutive appearance for the dark blues (19 starts, 1 sub).

64 Responses

  1. I’ve a horrible feeling of having been here before. Most recently 2018, when we were favourites on the back of a few good performances and facing a weakened Welsh team. We all know how that ended. What I am finding heartening, so far, is that there has been very little coming out of the Scotland camp. Nothing along the lines of – we’re feeling really confident and are ready to head down there for glory etc… All I’ve heard from those actually involved is about focussing on our performance and acknowledging how difficult a place Cardiff is to get a result. I think it’s been complete silence from the actual players. I’m hoping this reflects a change in mindset, which is stay focussed and do your talking on the pitch. I really hope so, as I am DESPERATE to move on from 2010!

    On a side note – the 10 & 11 head to heads as even, is vastly different from the appraisal of those players in the Rugby Pass Top 100!

    Excited, but also keeching it!

    1. The only thing I’m hanging on to is that in 2018 it was first game up , after a decent autumn. We’ve had last week to blow out cobwebs and remind us what 6 nations requires , hopefully this will provide grounding that was missing in 18.

    2. I mean the most obvious parallel is literally last year – very similar scenario, beating England first up, and feeling confident going into face Wales – albeit they had a better side last year with more of their players available. but again, Ritchie missing….that’s interesting I didn’t recall that he missed last year’s Wales game. Hopefully we’ve learned the lessons from last year – if we play like we did in the first 20 mins last year, and then keep our foot on the throat, we have a very good chance. But this is hugely important as a game – win, and we’ll ahve momentum we’ve not had for 20 years. Lose, and it’ll be the same deflation as last year. I think we can do it.

  2. We’ve definitely been here before and we’ve every chance of doing very well but we all know the history in Cardiff. I like the cautious, respectful, lets do our talking on the pitch approach the boys seem to be bringing to this game. Hopefully the rugby gods do as well!

  3. My wife is Welsh, so this is the worst fixture in the tournament. But the stats say that she can’t resent a Scottish win.

    We really should have enough, but as Matto says, we have been there before.

    I do like the absence of pre match bragging. Just keep building that belief on the pitch. C’mon.

  4. If we can’t get over the line with this team and the difficulties Wales are having then we will never be able too. We simply need to win this and make a statement that as a team we have finally arrived.

  5. I’m the same with thinking back to 2018. One thing though is that we are a more cohesive unit of players, more depth and big wins are more regular than they were back then. It will be a tough game and I think both teams are a different prospect than in 2018. It’s winnable but the stupid self inflicted errors need to be kept to the minimum

  6. Another bit of miscellany (although the figures may need checking!): Gray junior will surpass (wikipedia) or equal (scottishrugby.org) Gray senior’s caps tomorrow. They were always excellent as a combo, and the nostalgist in me would love to see them on the field together again.

  7. It’s incredible how much the Welsh team has changed since that 2018 game. Ross Moriarty is the only survivor and he was on much better form then. Wyn Jones, Tomas Francis and Owen Watkin came off the bench. There are many reasons to view this as an almost entirely different scenario. Given the Principality Stadium factor, though, cool heads and a decent performance kicking from hand and off the tee will be so important to take the passion and sting out of the match. Then hopefully a couple of moments of magic.

    Something like the 1982 Cardiff match would be great! If you haven’t seen it, you won’t regret having a watch. “Baird up the touchline…and he’s away!!” One of the most thrilling moments in Scottish rugby history.

    1. We’d just finished a 2nd XV game at Sevenoaks when our skipper came into the dressing room and told me Scotland had just won 34-18 in Cardiff. I told him to fudge off and stop trying to wind me up!

  8. I’m a bleary eyed following my birthday celebrations yesterday but it looks like Kev has Biggar and Finn as equals. I’ll just get my specs…

  9. The most painful games against Wales ( think 2010, 2015, last year) have seen us start extremely well, followed by a couple of small momentum shifts, we’ve started to doubt,and they’ve seen stolen it.

    I’m wondering if toonie has stacked the bench with a) some of our biggest and scariest and b) some players the fans are really keen to see in Redpath and Darge, just to give a lift when our nerve is inevitably tested.

    That 2010 game, I think, affected me psychologically more than any sporting event ever. I was literally prostrate on my living room floor. Way worse than the anger of joubertgate or the misery of that 61-21 game. Since then, I always woken up on the day of the Wales game with a sense of impending pain. In the past, the game hasn’t usually disappointed.

    But how many times in the last couple of years has this team rewritten history? This would be a huge step forwards for them, a few more demons laid to rest. And I think that they know they can do it.

  10. Yeah the biggest thing in this game is to stay composed and hold our nerve. It’ll be a tight game 3 points according to the bookies. We may be up we may be down. Nip and tuck. We could play a lot better than England and lose. We could play worse and win. Scotland will need patience. I reckon our bench will win it in the end.

  11. Russell and Biggar as Evens??? Really not sure about that, given current form and influence I’d say Russell is comfortably ahead.

    1. Hmmmm my post didn’t age well. Wish I’d just kept my trap shut. Absolutely p’d off with our performance in that game.

  12. 3.53 of Access Scotland Camp on YouTube: Nice camera angle of Darcy’s break against England. Does the defender with a look.

  13. Nervy stuff. Knife edge whether this team slowly and inevitably presses and pulls away with confidence and class in the second or regresses into a Welsh dogfight with only one winner and sending Scottish rugby back to the doldrums.

    1. Scotland look much more dangerous with the ball.
      Bit nervy in defence and really need to just trust the system instead of forcing it and giving away penalties.
      Bit more territorial control in the second half and should start to push on.
      Darcy Graham knocking people around all over the pitch.
      Hopefully our bench will make the difference

      1. I don’t like that it’s p*ssing it down. That’s for sure. Yes to more territorial control! I’m gonna call a Scotland intercept try from Welsh attack as well as the influence of Redpath…

  14. HT: nervy game of nip and tuck. If our bam squad tactic works we can win. If we get a YC for persistent infringements, it’ll kill us.

    Ok performance away from home in atrocious conditions but we’ll be disappointed our discipline has kept Wales in match when we have looked like establishing our lead.

    Reckon it’ll be a one score victory for whoever ends up on top.

  15. Cut out the mistakes and hopefully we can get over the line but this welsh team are well up for the fight and aren’t going to drop off like we might have expected/hoped.

    Anyone else had to mute the tv commentary due to the awful Eddie Butler? When will the BBC get some new blood into the commentary teams!

    1. Yep … muted most of that half. Jonathon Davies instead of praising scotlands great try… simply concludes a Welsh mistake.. almost every try has someone making an error of some degree ffs. As expected tough match…

  16. The time wasting by Williams, Biggar and Jones is impressive… constantly down getting ‘treatment’

  17. Second half very poor for Scotland but my God the refereeing was shocking.
    Wales getting away with murder and Scotland getting pinged for the tiniest margins.
    It’s just not good enough having Kinghorn as 10 cover.

    1. Welsh offenders get warned and told not to do it and given time to stop, Scotland immediately penalised.

      Otherwise we had no shape, no platform and just very poor.

      Ritchie was hugely missed.

    2. Nic Berry seemed to apply different standards to each team at the breakdown, on top which he missed some blatant infringements by Wales.

      That said, Scotland were poor today. There was little cohesion and focus on display.

      The one positive we can take from the game was Graham’s performance. He was terrific again today and certainly did not deserve to be on the losing side.

  18. my worst fears came to fruition. Why do we always play badly v Wales. Second half particularly poor

  19. Well that was disappointing. Scotland were poor, the whole bam squad thing didn’t work, Russell was very poor, I don’t think Wales particularly outplayed us but we didn’t do anything to earn a result. Same old really, heroes to zeroes. What can you do? We just weren’t good enough.

    1. Shoeman is a much better loose head than Sutherland. Fagerson is good in the loose yet still not good enough in the scrum.
      We have good depth in general but not at TH. Ritchie really missed. Gray doesn’t impress me despite his tackle stats.
      Not having Hastings and choosing kinghorn was/ is plain daft.

    2. Notice in the warm up Russell had his phone out and kept looking at it. Phone out in warm up … OMG!

  20. Obviously had no effect on the game but how Basham escaped a red card is beyond me. What is the point in having the high tackle framework if a shoulder to head with no wrap and no real mitigation can be let off like that. The ref totally bottled it even though it wasn’t going to effect the result.

  21. Wales are a stuffy, gritty side .. tough to break down. Losing Fin probably cost us the win or at least parity. Should be renamed ‘the wales v 14‘ stadium…
    It’s not that surprising really… Ireland and France are out ahead of the rest… we are in same breath as Wales and England.

  22. Very predictable.
    Great defender but not a game for Chris Harris but another attacking option in midfield or keep Sam Johnson and push Tuipilotu to 13.
    Toony Tombola for positive attack against a stodgy Welsh side with little flair in the attack? Ah hindsight from the armchair…

    1. Without Harris I think we would get hammered in midfield. He is everywhere. Redpath is our most talented 12 but unfortunately this 6N came too early for him post injury.

      1. Against France, Ireland or England I would agree but Wales don’t carry the same threat. Too despondent to imagine how we’d defend without him but Wales would probably just ship it along the line or up and under it.

  23. Amateur hour
    Finn Russell showed his full repertoire, brilliant pass for Darcy try followed by kick off straight out (which he seemingly thought was hilarious), missed passes to no one, missing penalty to touch,charged down kick, crazy drop goal attempt,and then to compound everything a complete brainstorm to get himself yellow carded. If I sound annoyed it’s because I know if Finn plays well,we play well but typically the team follows his lead and if he has a bad day , well we saw what happens, the team fell apart with dropped passes and giving up penalties.
    Beyond fed up .The wait goes on

    1. I think we should face the fact that we’re very unlikely to win a 6N with this group of players and given the state of the u20s probably not in tho e near future either. We can enjoy being competitive but no point sweating not being the best, because we are really not very close to being up there with the best. That’s my disappointed take anyway :(

  24. Tough team, Wales. Gotta give em credit. They just didn’t want to lose at home and scrapped out the win.

    More to come from this team tho.

    1. At the very top of rugby you have to keep the discipline and the same number of players as the opposition on the pitch for the 80.
      It’s always the streetwise stuff that gets us too… that and coughing up daft penalties.

  25. Sigh, here we go again. Wales didn’t win that match, we lost it. They created nothing, all their points came from our errors. Attack was pretty good in the first half but the Welsh defence stepped up in the second, fair play to them. Duhans two knock ons and a lost line out within a couple of minutes of each other while having Finn in the bin killed any prospect of a comeback.

    So many stupid mistakes, you can’t win a test match making so many basic errors. Wales probably got the rub of the green with the ref but that’s not what won the game for them.

  26. Why play for 3 points every time we got a penalty. Are we unable to go for a try… Terrible tactics.

  27. Maybe there’s some psychological baggage with Wales.

    Last year when we went 17-3 up and they just clawed their way back…. eurgh.

    They’ve got some good individuals but they’re also a never say die kind of team.

    Oh well, plenty of opportunity yet for Scotland.

  28. To be honest this seemed to me to be a carbon copy performance to the England game. we didn’t play well against England, our lineout and maul were dominated and it was much the same here. Our clearouts were poor although our phase play was slightly better. I’m convinced the result against England left many blind to the performance.

  29. We were poor particularly in second half, Finn had a shocker. Why doesn’t Hogg step in for penalty touchline kicks? No sense of leadership as Wales smelt a win. Ritchie absence felt. Really should not have lost that, very fine margins.
    Darcy was great, motm with a different result. Schoemann also excellent. Ref was poor – not going to world cup on that performance. Yellow for an accidental knock on and nothing for a shoulder to the head….?! Overall he was very generous to Wales, but we also were soft in the contact.
    Next steps – Start with Redpath, Tuipolotu at 13, Harris for the last 20. Bring in Cummings for Gray.
    Keep it tight, no need to panic and kick, we had that and threw it away.

  30. That result wasn’t unexpected but I feel really gutted after that. Was really hoping that Scotland could kick on but the same frailties are still there. Feel frustrated now that a golden generation of players, who should be peaking, might never get there.

    I generally feel that our forwards have gone backwards in the last 12 months. The turning point in this game seem to follow Fagerson going off. I’m not fancying our chances in the rest of the championships with the growing injury list. Hope I’m proved wrong and we can turn it around for the visit of France.

  31. What is it about wales that makes us beat ourselves every time? Other than a line out drive they never looked like creating anything but then they never looked like they’d need to. So many mistakes: poor handling, poor decisions, just generally poor.

    1. I meant to say, my take on the Finn yellow was he went for the interception but misjudged where the welsh player was. If he hadn’t collided with the Welshman I think he’d have regathered.

      1. I’m sorry but Russell’s attempt at a 50/50 ball is what cost us the game. If you fail to take an intercept it’s yellow (or red) and between 3 and 7 points every time. Sometimes it works for him but in a game poised level on points it was a risk not worth taking. At worst we risked losing a try in the corner , 5 points down (conversion not guaranteed) 15 mins to play with 15 players all on the park . As it was we lost 3 for the penalty and went to 14 men for 10 mins , which typically results in another 10 points against, Don’t do it!!!!

  32. I feared this
    There was 2 x Graham errors, Russell out on full, Hogg error ALL on our/go forward ball…… this is inexcusable, yes go for it but only after we’ve earned it. Wales were there for the taking but we allowed them to win the game.

  33. Very poor from Scotland.

    1. Start your best players from now on.
    2. Basics first and foremost, you need to earn the right to go wide… did we ever try to dominate Wales up front physically like Ireland did once?
    3. Poor referee. The number 1 rule for referee’s is you apply the same standards to both sides, the breakdown was ridiculous.
    4. Where was the leadership this game? Gilchrist and Russell were supposed to be VC no?

    Positives… only individuals: Watson looked back to his best, Graham very good. Tuipolotu was solid the same as Johnson. Redpath and Kinghorn had some nice carries in their limited time.

  34. Normally I have to say, the refs are swayed in the Millenium. Watched this one in the pub, (unable to hear the commentary) and thought the ref. Was very balanced.
    Our best opportunity to win in Wales in 20 years and again we failed. I’d say ‘bottled’ but we were never really in front or commanding to bottle anything , it was a slugfest all the way.
    Russel picked the day to have his worst test match in years, missing touch, charge downs, reaching for interceptions that never were, lack of the Midas – take your pick. It as a second half for Hastings and the coach has dispensed with him believing Russel 60/kinghorn 20 will do – think again!
    It should have been a game where we dominate the entire match, like Ireland did last week but no, we failed on all fronts. The bam squad didn’t materialise, VDM might as well have gone home, Tuipulotu offered nothing that Johnson can’t do, Price went AWOL, Gray burst a gut for 15 then reverted to type. Hamish Watson, Darcy Graham and Matt Fagerson (until injury) were the only performers out there today. The wait goes on.
    4th again this year.

  35. France v Ireland looked a level above what was on show at Cardiff. Surprised if they are not the top two

    1. There is one our team is never short of before these big matches is confidence..Scottish players start to believe their own hype year after year.

      1. Do they hell! Confidence is a factor you are right. We had an opportunity to take control of the game in the second quarter. It’s a reminder to the boys of the skill of game management which we had achieved so well last season. Get it back on que in the French game and we’ll have our championship back up and running.

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