Scotland must exploit obvious Wales weaknesses

Blair Cowan impressed in Paris, especially the turnover count
Blair Cowan impressed in Paris, especially the turnover count
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Having scored one more try than France in Paris in a losing cause for the first time ever, Scotland’s rugby team are re-grouping in a bid to get off their RBS Six Nations campaign off the mark against Wales at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.

Was it a case of glorious failure for the Scots? Or were there distinct signs of promise?

We ask a selection of coaches across the Edinburgh rugby scene for their views on the Paris performance and their hopes for the second round of the Championship.

Eric Jones (Lismore): “I fancy Scotland to come through a really tight game partly because the Welsh scrum does not look as strong following the retirement of Adam Jones.

“I thought Wales struggled a bit in that department against England. I certainly hope Scotland continue their policy of minimal change as the continuity seems to be helping.

“In Paris Scotland played a lot better rugby than France and it came down to a few goal kicks.

“The promise shown in the Autumn Tests was built upon with Dougie Fife doing alright when he came off the bench.”

Blair Skipper (Leith): “Scotland have an exciting back line and I’d really like to see them continue to have a go against Wales on Sunday.

“Defensively Scotland have tightened up, too, compared to when I came across from New Zealand in 2005.

“I’ve always admired Welsh rugby but against England I was surprised at the way their half backs stood off and expected things to happen.

“I expect the No.9 and 10 to always be sniping and creating things for the centres but Jamie Roberts hardly received a pass.

“A lot could depend on how Wales address that in a Six Nations that looks extremely even.”

Steve Leckie (RHC Cougars): “Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg were particularly good and Blair Cowan gained more turnovers than any other player in the opening round.

“Scotland tried to play a lot of rugby but they also were sound defensively.

“I liked the way they leg tackled and immediately got back on their feet to compete which was a sign of the way they are very well organised.

“Vern Cotter certainly seems to have got a lot of passion back and for Scots you can’t put a price on that.

“Wales seemed to struggle against big lads coming round the corner of rucks and set-pieces against England and I have a really good feeling so far as Scotland’s chances are concerned.”

Bruce Aitchison (Boroughmuir): “Scotland’s back row has speed, guile and agility and a lot could come down to how they deal with more destructive Welsh counterparts.

“Rob Harley is such a strong tackler I’m hoping Scotland can get on the front foot and allow Blair Cowan to keep making turnovers. If he does then Greig Laidlaw is astute enough to use the possession to turn the Welsh but these chances only come maybe once or twice and have to be capitalised on.

“To hear Cowan being talked about at the weekend by Jeremy Guscott (ex England centre) as a possible player of the tournament was really interesting and while he comes highly rated at London Irish we seem to be benefitting from the close understanding in the side with so many Glasgow players.

“With possession its great to see Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg showing so much ambition and, looking at the bench, I can see the former being expected to play the full 80 minutes. I can see a scenario where Scotland win big, but I can also see a ferocious Welsh backlash to losing against England and much might also come down to the quality of the benches.

“Scotland won’t have Euan Murray because he won’t play on Sundays. Does that mean a full shift for Geoff Cross? That’s a huge ask for a prop in an era where games are so physical.”

David Adamson (Edinburgh University): “I can’t see Scotland matching Wales physically and Jamie Roberts and Toby Faletau in particular are really strong runners.

“However, what Scotland do have is a lot of pace and guile.

“I expect the Scots to try to move a Welsh side appearing quite predictable around and try to overcome them that way,

“In Paris Finn Russell did especially well on his first Six Nations start and Stuart Hogg was also effective.

“Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett can also make the most of possession in a fast and loose game but where I would hope for an improvement is in the composure shown in attack.

“I thought Scotland could have scored at least one more try against the French but they lack experience in some areas. They will be all the better for that outing.”