Preview – Scotland v Wales

There is a line in the Scottish anthem that talks of the flower of Scotland and asks when we will see its likes again. This too will be the question on the lips of Scotsman near and far.

After a November series that suggested Scottish fortunes were on the up there was a crushing defeat at the hands of England last weekend that sent them homeward to think again. For Scotland they will be hoping that day is past now as the entertain Wales on Saturday.

Wales too were victims of an opening day Six Nations defeat, albeit in a contrasting manner to the way Scotland fell from grace, and will arrive in Edinburgh as marginal favourites.

Wales’ last visit to Murrayfield was in their Grand Slam year and saw a first half performance worthy of the then champions to be. Last years Cardiff encounter will be remembered for the sending off of Scott Murray, a factor that swung the game in favour of the Welsh, so what then can we expect from this years battle?

Frank Hadden has turned to the Edinburgh trio of Phil Godman, Rob Dewey and Scott Murray to change the fading Scottish fortunes. In fact such is Hadden’s faith in young Godman that he believes he has the ability to alter the course of this crucial game.

“We have picked a team to win this match and by changing the stand-off we will change the way in which we approach this game and play this game,” commented Hadden.

“We believe firmly that Phil Godman is the right man for this occasion.”

Godman would therefore be excused if he admitted he was feeling a wee bit under pressure, with just seven caps and only one start in a Scotland jersey to date, a lot is expected of him. He will however be surrounded by players he knows only too well, with a further eight of the Scotland team being provided by Edinburgh.

The selection of Godman in the fly-half role would suggest Scotland will be looking to play a more expansive game, as where as Dan Parks’ game is very much a kicking one, Godman is more adept to playing an open game.

Welsh coach Gareth Jenkins has also made several changes to his side, most notable is the return of the “Hair Bears” Adam and Duncan Jones. The Ospreys duo will look to add a fresh impetus to the Welsh scrum, as well as both being more than able dynamic ball carriers.

Wales will need to carry hard into the heart of the Scottish defence if they are to open up the game and play their favoured running rugby. With Mark Jones returning on the wing in the place of Hal Luscombe, who picked up a knee injury against Ireland, Wales will have an extra edge out wide this week.

Scrum-half Dwayne Peel will be the latest Welshman to join the fifty cap club on Saturday, and he is in fact the youngest Welshman to achieve the milestone. Peel is back to his best and playing with Stephen Jones at regional level gives the half-back pairing a complete understanding of one anothers games. Wales will look to this partnership to maintain the fluidity in their game.

Realistically it is hard to see either of these sides competing for the championship this season, although one would have to think Wales have a better chance than their Celtic rivals. That said neither side will hold back on Saturday and so it is with great anticipation we look forward to kick off.

Previous Results:

2006: Wales won 28-18, Millennium Stadium
2005: Wales won 46-22, Murrayfield
2004: Wales won 23-10, Millennium Stadium
2003: Wales won 23-9, Millennium Stadium
2003: Scotland won 30-22, Murrayfield
2002: Scotland won 27-22, Millennium Stadium
2001: Draw 28-28, Murrayfield
2000: Wales won 26-18, Millennium Stadium
1999: Scotland won 33-20, Murrayfield
1998: Wales won 19-13, Wembley
1997: Wales won 34-19, Murrayfield
1996: Scotland won 16-14, Cardiff Arms Park

Prediction: Both sides come into this game on the back of opening day defeats and will be eager

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