Scottish injuries hamper end to winless run aim
Injury-hit Scotland will need a repeat of their heroics against Ireland if they are to end a 10-year wait for a victory against Wales when both sides attempt to reignite their Six Nations campaigns on Saturday. You have to go back to 2007 for Scotland's last success against Wales and they must address that poor record at Murrayfield this weekend after crashing to defeat against France last time out.
Following the high of defeating Ireland on the opening weekend, Vern Cotter's men fell short in Paris, where they lost captain Greig Laidlaw to an ankle injury that ruled him out of the tournament. John Barclay will be the man to lay down the law after being named as skipper in the absence of the talismanic scrum-half, who has been replaced by Ali Price. Sean Maitland and Josh Strauss have also joined the injury list.
Wales have also had a fortnight to lick their wounds after Elliot Daly's late try snatched victory for England in Cardiff. George North returns after missing that clash with a dead leg, while Ross Moriarty will start again with Taulupe Faletau among the replacements.
HEAD TO HEAD
WRU TV: As the squad prepares to head north to Edinburgh we hear some of their favourite memories of Wales v Scotland encounters pic.twitter.com/sIiB9z8rXh— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) 23 February 2017
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2016?
Scotland threatened to end their Wales hoodoo when they led a thriller 16-13 with 15 minutes remaining, but a late burst gave Warren Gatland's men a 27-23 victory. Gareth Davies' early try set Wales on their way to a first win of the tournament, but Tommy Seymour went over to level and Scotland were 13-10 to the good at the break.
Wales raised their game in the second half, with Jamie Roberts and George North scoring before Duncan Taylor added a second Scotland try late on which proved to be too little, too late.
Richie and Jonny Gray (Scotland)
Steering away from the usual approach of picking one man who could have a major say on the outcome, two men in the engine room will have to be firing on all cylinders to set the platform for Scotland. The Gray brothers are set for an almighty battle with Jake Ball and Alun Wyn Jones, which will have a huge say in which side comes out on top.
Rhys Webb (Wales)
Looking beyond Jones and Ball, Webb was outstanding against England and Wales will expect the scrum-half to dictate the game. If he provided with quick ball, Webb can get Wales ticking.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, Alistair Price ; Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay (captain), John Hardie, Ryan Wilson.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.
Vern Cotter (Scotland): "It's a home game, it's Wales – we pushed them close the last couple of times but we want to tip them over this time."
Rob Howley (Wales): "In terms of intensity and performance, we stepped up a level against England and we need to take the positives from that performance and take it into 80 minutes against Scotland."
- Wales are hunting for a 10th consecutive win against Scotland, winning by an average margin of 15 points in the previous nine. This is the longest winning run either side has enjoyed in the history of this fixture.
- Scotland have won their last three home games (Ireland, Georgia, Argentina), only once since 1996 have they gone on a longer such run (2006: France, England, Romania, Pacific Islanders).
- George North has scored in each of his last five Six Nations appearances; if he scores in this game it would set a new record in the competition. Stuart Hogg has scored in each of his last four Six Nations games.