Harley: Drive can come from Scotland mauls

Rob Harley
Rob Harley
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Scotland’s rugby team look set to try to maul their way into sporting history with an unchanged team for the first time in four years against the All Blacks at BT Murrayfield tonight.

Not since the side that claimed a 15-15 draw with England were kept to together to win 23-20 in Dublin have the Scots said ‘same again’.

And continuity and cohesion could be vital, with many believing the best way to update a record showing they have never beaten New Zealand is to confront them head-on.

Never one to shirk a physical approach, second row Richie Gray confirmed willingness to meet fire with fire.

But when asked directly if the maul was integral to planning, Gray suddenly become coy, remarking “I can’t say.”

Set this against what ex-Wales captain Eddie Butler saying on BBC this week and Gray’s taciturn approach takes an intriguing twist.

Analysing eEngland’s defeat by the kiwis this week, Butler said; “By their own admission New Zealand fear one thing and that is the driving maul coming at them. England are, by tradition, one of the best exponents of that and I was surprised that England kicked away ball rather than going at the weak spot of the All Blacks.”

Sitting alongside Gray, a slightly more voluble Rob Harley took up the issue, saying: “With our set-piece and everything we are setting out our stall that we have really got to raise our game and give them challenges there.

“We are trying to raise our standard from where we were last week (beating Argentina 41-31).

“If we get that improvement and we can take things to the next level.”

Records are being getting updated and last weekend featured tries from brothers – Richie and Jonny Gray – for the first time since the Hastings’ scored against Tonga in the 1995 World Cup.

Here at least a proud Gray, snr, was forthcoming: “I think I gave a bit of a cheer. I was on the ground, looked up and saw him crashing over. I didn’t expect it (so) I gave a cheer, ran over, patted him on the back. It was brilliant!”