Injury Ridden Scots Pose No Threat In Murrayfield
Scotland v Wales
Wales travel to Murrayfield on Sunday where they face an improved Scotland side but do Vern Cotter’s side pose much of a threat against the Welsh?
Scotland improved steadily under Vern Cotter last year, embarking on a successful summer tour and performing with some credit in their autumn internationals, recording victories over Argentina and Scotland and giving New Zealand a scare. They had a tough opening assignment in this year’s 6 Nations, but acquitted themselves well in Paris, scoring the only try of the game, but losing 15-7.
Victory over South Africa in their final autumn international, a long awaited success against southern hemisphere opponents, provided the sole highlight in what was a disappointing 2014 for Wales. They were strongly fancied to kick off this year’s 6 Nations with a victory over a weakened English side, but they were outfought in a ferocious contest and cannot afford another slip up in their last four games.
Scotland were already badly hit with injuries before last weekend’s opener with up to a dozen players unavailable and that list of absentees has lengthened after the defeat in Paris. Winger Tommy Seymour has a hip injury and Geoff Cross, Alex Dunbar, Alasdhair Strokosch, Robert Harley and Mark Bennett are all doubtful.
Despite coming under pressure after the dispiriting loss to England, Welsh coach Warren Gatland has made only one change, and that is to leave out George North after his concussion controversy. He will be replaced on the left wing by Liam Williams. Tight-head prop Samson Lee also suffered concussion on Friday, but he has been included in the squad, though is yet to complete the return to play protocol.
Scotland’s recent record against Wales is poor. They’ve lost ten and drawn one of their fourteen encounters in the 6 Nations, and the last time they beat the Welsh was back in February 2007.
Last year’s 6 Nations was a particular low point for Scotland in the history of this fixture, as they managed just three points at the Millennium Stadium, conceding fifty-one as the Welsh recorded their biggest ever win over the Scots.
And in recent years, Wales have had little to fear from a trip to Murrayfield. The men in red have won their last three matches in Edinburgh, each by double figure margins.
Once again Wales are up against a 6 Nations opponent depleted by injury and once again they are expected to come out on top. This is now a must-win game for the Welsh, but a victory in Scotland is well within their capabilities.
The home side have definitely improved in recent months, but they are still a work in progress, as their performance in Paris last week demonstrated. They defended stoutly, but gave away too many penalties in the second half and were hemmed in by France’s powerful running. We can expect Wales to adopt similar bulldozer tactics and I can’t see a weakened Scottish side being able to hold out. Back Wales -4 at 10/11 in the Match Handicap market.