Kelly Brown urges caution in Cardiff

Kelly Brown at Murrayfield

Kelly Brown at Murrayfield

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Scotland rugby skipper Kelly Brown will call on his side to curb natural exuberance in seeking a first win over Wales for seven years at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday.

Another 13 penalties conceded by the Scots to France last weekend in a 17-19 defeat took their aggregate for the four matches of this Championship to an eye-watering 51.

Brown admits something has to change but has a plan and attributes the problem partly to wanting success too badly.

“We have been so keen and enthusiastic to make a positive impact we have been penalised for it,” claims the Saracens flanker. Now Brown is urging circumspection while denying that pausing to think more carefully before acting, especially at rucks, is tantamount to playing with one arm tied behind the back.

“It is up to the players to make the decision; if they feel they can steal the ball legally then go for it is my message.

“If they are in that situation where they are not quite sure maybe you’ve just got to leave it. That’s not to say we are going to sit back. We need to keep on with our line speed, keep on contesting the breakdown.

“But, if it’s 50-50 then maybe there will be times when we just have to leave the ball.

“In terms of discipline it is an all-round thing. We just need to keep looking at ourselves. If we look back overall we have taken a lot of positives from the French match. A lot of aspects of our game were very good including the fact that over the course of the game we felt in control.”

For the past two matches Scotland have been under the supervision of a southern hemisphere referee, falling foul in terms of penalties on both occasions despite managing to scramble a last gasp win in Italy.

Did the environment these past two referees normally work in, with varying interpretations, have a particular bearing?

“We try and speak with all refs. It was the same last Friday night when Jon (Humphreys, Scotland forwards coach) and myself met with the ref and had a good chat. It’s just unfortunate we ended up on the wrong side of the penalty count which is being looked at closely.

“We have conceded over the course of the championship far too many penalties and our discipline is something we have really focused on this week. It is up to us as a side to work with each of the individual (refs) and adapt.”

Forwards coach Humphreys is a former Wales hooker, so might he be able to offer some insight into how the Welsh will approach a match in which the title won by them in 2013 has now been relinquished?

“Jonathan Humphreys is a Welshman but right now he is with us and will be doing all he can to ensure we are successful,” mused Brown.

As for the possibility of some experimentation in Welsh ranks, Brown adds: “We know the Welsh are a really strong side, lots of strength in depth. Whatever side they put out it will be tough.”

Brown is one of a handful of Scots liable to be on duty this weekend who featured in the last win over Wales, by 21-9, at Murrayfield in 2007.

Chris Cusiter, Jim Hamilton and Euan Murray are the others and Brown said: “What I remember about that match was the scoring all being done by penalties.”

However, it is the 2010 instalment that stands out for Brown as the “most memorable game of my life” even though Scotland lost. This was the infamous occasion when Scotland blew an 18-16 lead before losing 31-24 to an injury time try from Shane Williams.

However, much, much more occurred – as Brown recalled.

“It was probably, in a lot of ways, the most memorable game of my life just because of the circumstances.

“I was over the line for a try and pulled back for a forward pass; Mossy (Chris Paterson) got his 100th cap and tore a kidney; Thom (Evans) broke his neck and we ended up with 13 men on the park.

“So much happened over the course of that game it is very much seared in my memory.

“It was a memorable game and the sad thing was we could not quite see it out. For 60-65 minutes we did enough to win the game.”

Is there a feeling, then, of unfinished business and does Saturday register as a chance to exorcise painful memories?

As always, Brown is focused on looking ahead though 2010’s outcome can serve as a further reminder of what can happen if a team fails to nail down victory from a winning position.