Six Nations 2016: Wales vs Scotland Prediction

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The Welsh showed a great deal of grit and determination last weekend, clawing back the match against Ireland and eventually forcing a 16-16 draw. Whilst a draw is both a frustrating and unlikely result in rugby, it has blown the competition wide open and it was arguably a more promising result for Wales than it was for Ireland. Liam Williams looked like he’d never been away; the Welsh pack did astonishingly well at the scrum; and a special mention is needed as well for Jamie Roberts, who put in an enormous defensive effort in the centre and proved to be just as physical in attack.

Scotland’s campaign got off to a slightly less positive start against Eddie Jones’s new-look England outfit in an error-ridden match in Murrayfield that ended 9-15, the visitors claiming the spoils and that all important Calcutta Cup. All eyes will be on Finn Russell this weekend who sadly failed to get his game moving up the gears and was unable to manage the match effectively from his outside-half berth. Scotland’s most potent attacking threat last weekend came in the form of Stuart Hogg who looked dangerous from anywhere on the pitch and showed his enterprise and mettle.

WALES

Gatland continues to pick on form and create some consistency in the team, naming an unchanged starting XV to face Scotland this weekend.

Liam Williams keeps his spot at fullback, and the heavy-set duo of North and James are retained on the wing. The first choice partnership of Roberts and Davies link up again in the centre, while Dan Biggar’s inclusion at stand-off comes as a surprise after he hobbled off the pitch last weekend, Gatland claiming that his timely recovery is “miraculous”.

Gareth Davies’s delivery from the ruck was a little slow last weekend and he failed to attempt his dangerous darting runs around the breakdown, so I would expect Laidlaw and Russell to test Wales here, taking the ball up that 9 and 10 channel, drawing in Biggar and making him work hard.

The effort from the Welsh pack in the scrum was incredible last weekend as they managed to shore up the Irish effort time and time again. The front-row did exceptionally well; Gatland’s choice to go with Evans and Lee at loose-head and tight-head respectively proved to pay off, and Scott Baldwin’s hooking ability allowed Faletau to get some clean delivery in the back-row.

Luke Charteris and Alun-Wyn Jones are an exciting pairing in the second-row, both offering something different, although Alun-Wyn failed to reach his full potential against Ireland, slipping off a tackle and in doing so making an uncharacteristic mistake. The back row combination of Tipuric, Warburton and Faletau provide a healthy combination of experience and athleticism.

Key player: Alun-Wyn Jones

Whilst the efforts in the scrum last weekend were second to none, the pack looked a little laboured at the breakdown on occasions. Alun-Wyn will be key in rolling his sleeves up and taking Scotland on physically, as the likes of Barclay, Gray and Hardie will be looking to impose themselves at the breakdown.

SCOTLAND

Vern Cotter has made only one change to his starting line-up that faced England last weekend, with Duncan Taylor coming into the centre in place of the injured Matt Scott.

If the game proves to open up, Stuart Hogg will be key in getting Scotland on the front foot, his counter-attacking threat plain to see. With the British & Irish Lion often left to his own devices last weekend, Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland will need to link up more effectively with their back three teammate, taking Wales on from deep, forcing them into the contact area.

Taylor and Bennett will have their work cut out for them at inside and outside centre, and Finn Russell will have to re-find some form at outside-half if Scotland stand any chance whatsoever of some cohesion and organisation; the experienced head of Greg Laidlaw must provide Russell with quicker delivery than he did against England.

In the pack, Barclay, Hardie and Denton have the potential to cause real problems for Wales at the breakdown and the second-row combination of the Gray brothers could be devastating for the Welsh if they don’t manage clean line-out ball. The front-row of Dickinson, Ford and Nel performed solidly against England, but with their opposite numbers going into tomorrow’s fixture with a huge amount of confidence, they will need to step their game up once again.

Key player: Finn Russell

Cited as one to watch in last weekend’s preview of the Calcutta Cup, Russell goes into the second round with all eyes on his game management and all-round distribution. The question marks over Dan Biggar’s fitness mean that Russell has the potential to really take the game on in midfield, and a big performance from him will be vital in snuffing out the Welsh defensive effort.

PREDICTION

Scotland need a win. After making such huge ground in the World Cup they fell frustratingly short against England at home last weekend, and they’ll be travelling down to Cardiff as massive underdogs. If Scotland manage to force mistakes from Wales early on, they have the potential to upset the rhythm and push them all the way.

However, the last twenty minutes will be vital, as Scotland will need to work hard to keep up with Welsh fitness levels and their home advantage. If Biggar is back to full strength and the Welsh pack hold up in the scrum like they did last weekend, I’d expect a brace of tries from the men in red and a comprehensive victory. Wales by 10.

By Daniel Jenkins

Follow Daniel on Twitter: @DanWJenkins

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

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30 comments on “Six Nations 2016: Wales vs Scotland Prediction

  1. It is almost a 1st choice team and still misses Webb, Lydiate and Scott Williams.

    However IF Wales can repeat that set-piece performance from Dublin and Dan Biggar is really 100% then …ok. Throw in the physical size the Wales backs (Roberts, North espec) I would expect an enjoyable afternoon.

    It won’t be the walk in the park that 2014 was however but Scotland even down to 14 were really awful in that game.

    There again Wales never seem to handle the tag of favourites very well and Scotland MUST win this or their whole 6n will start to go off the rails.

    I’ll still stick a fiver on Scotland….just in case.

  2. I think I’ll get in before anyone from the other articles chips in where I had the audacity to suggest awin for Wales by at least 8 points.

    Wales by 10? But, but, but what about The World Cup form, the referee lost us the game against Australia, England were lucky we weren’t on the form from the World Cup despite our annual scrap with Italy for the wooden spoon and having the life strangled out of us by a brilliant defence.

    Anything I’ve missed?

    • Wales by 10!… How very dare you have the audacity to predict the favorites playing at home to win by a comfortable but not excessive margin

  3. Wales will no doubt be aware that, after the draw last week, the championship could easily come down to points diff once again – so I am expecting a few tries (maybe from both teams). And they consistenly start off rusty in the first match and improve as the tournament goes on. I think Wales will win, either by 5pts or so or by a big margin – with no middle ground.

  4. Wales by 10-15, easily. I saw nothing from Scotland last week to suggest they’ll come close. And Wales at home will be fired up, and only ever get better with more game time.

  5. I fully expect a significantly improved performance from Scotland. Yes Scotland were poor last weekend and did not live up to all the hype (yet again!), however, there are some genuinely good players there.

    The pack is more than a match for Wales and I expect it to be a hugely competitive area. As always, it will come down to Scotland taking their chances – and there will be chances. If we are chasing the game going into the final quarter we will struggle as our bench does not have the quality of our more illustrious opponents but if we get a quick start and can build a lead then there may be a glimmer of hope.

    You have to be optimistic as Scotland fan otherwise we’d all be in a mental asylum – catch my flight down at 16.50 this afternoon so roll on the weekend!!!!

  6. Wales all the way, unless they get complacent. Still Scotland can’t be any worse than last week (although my bitterness as an English fan still lingers after their capitulation last year at home handed Ireland the championship). I would love a repeat of the 2010 (I think?) match where Wales won it after the clock. What a match that was!

    • Please don’t say that. Possibly the worst ten minutes of my rugby watching career was seeing Scotland implode at the end of that game. Still never forgiven Phil Godman…

    • I hate this argument. England only have themselves to blame for blowing last year’s 6N. Any side that gives up 3 tries to Italy, 5 tries to France, and butchers AT LEAST 3 try scoring opportunities against Scotland doesn’t deserve to win the championship. Scotland allowing 4 Irish tries while only scoring 1 was the least of England’s problems.

      • It was somewhat tongue in cheek. I don’t think England deserved to win last year either, but I do think their capitulation was absolutely pathetic.

        • That’s fair enough. I’m just an overly-defensive Ireland supporter. Nothing made me angrier last year than Mike Brown blaming Scotland for England not winning the tournament.

  7. Wales should win comfortably here.

    I don’t really understand the Scotland optimism. They lost at home to Italy last season and picked up another wooden spoon. They made it through a group by beating Samoa and beat Japan just 3 days after Japan put in THAT performance against SA. The beat no tier 1 nation and really did the bare minimum. Then lost to Australia in the one genuinely good performance of their whole tournament. Why are people expecting that one off to continue?

    • But Jacob – don’t you realize they were “robbed” of their victory v Australia. There have been the odd article on it, perhaps you missed them as it wasn’t well reported, but I hear on good account that many Scottish players will take that injustice to their grave. The good news is that it will fuel them to win in the future, apparently.

      • Robbed? There tries consisted of a block-down and an intercept, Also you would have to seriously question Australia’s defence at the ruck for the first try. Bare in mind Australia missed loads of kicks…If Australia had actually turned up do you honestly think Scotland would have come close?

      • Oh I didn’t realise that. I was probably too focused on the fact that Scotland were lucky enough to be handed two tries notice that they were on the wrong side of a marginal refereeing decision after throwing away their own line out ball!

    • I love how people continually bring up Japan as if they were victims of an unfair policy. Every team bar one had one match with a four-day turnaround. I’m also almost certain that they beat Italy twice in the world cup warm-ups, ran Ireland and France very close and dicked the Aussies in the scrum. It’s interesting how the Aussies’ poor performance that day was because they didn’t turn up, whereas Scotland’s shit performance on Saturday was because of England’s fantastic defending.

      As for their tries against Australia, a try’s a try, whether from a charge down, intercept, pick and go… whatever. I really don’t understand why people get so arsey about Scotland being optimistic. Their problem isn’t lack of talent, it’s lack of depth and psychological weakness. It’s also worth noting that Glen Jackson handed Wales the victory last year. Well, him and Jim Hamilton. What a mug…

      • I’m sorry but it is perfectly fair to observe that a team would struggle to perform at their best 3 days after playing a hugely intense test match against SA.

        Scotland played well against Australia, undoubtedly. But that is the anomaly, and it shouldn’t be a surpise to see them revert to the norm this 6 nations, which is – not being all that good.

        If I were Scottish, I would be thinking that an away win against Italy, and a home win against France is very possible this 6 nations. I expect them to trouble Ireland and Wales even less than they did England.

      • “Glen Jackson handed Wales the victory last year. Well, him and Jim Hamilton. What a mug…”

        and the last I checked, Hamilton played for Scotland, no? Maybe Scotland will start winning when they get over blaming the refs for all of their losses?

    • Jacob, You’re absolutely right. And here’s a bit more ammo:
      “They made it through a group by beating Samoa” with a last minute try that included a blatant knock-on, which was inexplicably missed by the ref. (Incidentally, that ref was not made into a massive scapegoat over that last-minute decision, even though it was far more significant and obvious than the Joubert one).
      Oh and I’d also add that Samoa were missing the man who would have been captain for that game, behemoth wing and talisman Alesana Tuilagi – banned for having the temerity to run in a straight line with a rugby ball tucked under his arm.
      Scotland were no better than England at the world cup, yet they’re lauded as heroes and England were roundly pilloried with people losing their jobs over it.
      And still some silly Celts insist the British media is biased in favour of England. Insane.

      • This “Eng did hardly worse than the Celts” at the WC has to stop, not least because “The Celts” is an awful phrase. Some facts

        – Eng were at home in their WC
        – They didn’t beat a single team above them in the world rankings, Wales did.
        – They didn’t get out of their group, when all of their pivotal matches in said group, were at home. All of “The Celts” did.
        – Yes, they only went home 1 round earlier than the others, but all of “The Celts” only went home 2 rounds earlier than the winners. That’s a WC so comparing “round counts” is pretty minor.
        – They got torn a new one by Aus, the other two major home nations to play Aus didn’t.

        Then add in the massive underperformance vs expectation etc. and yes, they did really badly.

        • This one eyed England fan is in complete agreement Brighty. The World Cup was a humiliating failure. End of.

          I would counter though that for the “successes” of the other home nations has been somewhat inflated. Relative to England you all did great. Objectively I’d say you were either par or below par.

      • To be honest, I think Joubert’s decision to run off the field (for whatever reason) was what made him into a scapegoat – either that or very biased media.
        You mentioned another last minute decision being wrong – there were also two in the first round of the six nations that were, arguably, worse decisions that Joubert’s yet nobody’s talking about the referee as a scapegoat in those.

        Referees do occasionally get calls wrong – and that’s usually unlucky for one team, but they can’t do anything about it and must live with it. What the teams can do is avoid positions where they can be unlucky: don’t throw to the back of a lineout (or if you do, don’t screw it up) when you only need to regain possession, or don’t put a box kick straight up in the air and there’s far less opportunity to be unlucky.

  8. Having seen Wales’ defence and Scotland’s attack last week I’m really struggling to see where Scotland’s points will come from. Completely lacked any creativity.

    With Russell struggling, Bennett just back from injury and Maitland and Seymour not the most creative players, we’re all hoping Hogg will create something out of nothing. Not exactly a great attacking game plan. Although Duncan Taylor has been very good for Saracens this year, hopefully he’ll add something.

  9. Wales by 10 sounds about right to me, Warburton & Williams should have improved since last week when they were just back after long lay-offs.
    I don’t think the scrum will be as good as last week, the Scots front row is significantly better than what Ireland had available so would be more than happy with parity here.
    Barclay & Hardie didn’t cause England many problems so cannot see them getting much change out of Tips & Warburton, hopefully it will be an expansive game giving chances to North & James ( innocuous last week) to become more involved.
    But, as has been said, Wales do not bear ‘favourites’ tag very well, they need to get a good start & build from that, if they are ahead at 40 mins they should see it out comfortably with a much stronger bench later on.

  10. Reasons for Scotland winning:

    1) They’re underdogs, Wales are favourites, psychologically this makes a difference, for some reason
    2) They should have the upper hand in the pack
    3) They’re due a win against Wales

    Reasons against:

    1) Wales at home, roof closed, must win all adds up to WILL win
    2) Wales are better and more experienced
    3) Haley’s comet is not due