Wales v Scotland: Five talking points ahead of Six Nations clash
By Julian Crabtree
Last Updated: 13/02/16 6:59pm
Wales and Scotland will be looking for their first wins of the 2016 Six Nations under the closed roof at the Principality Stadium when they clash on Saturday.
Wales battled back from 13-0 down to draw 16-16 with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium while Scotland were disappointing in their 15-9 loss at home to England.
Scotland were not awful against England and at times did put them under pressure, however they could not find the cutting edge to make it count. They have only won four out of their last 26 Six Nations games and that does not look likely to improve as they head down to Cardiff.
Wales will be disappointed with the draw against Ireland - they started off far too slowly but showed plenty of character to fight back. They certainly had their chances against Ireland but their execution let them down and they will be relishing the chance to make amends against Scotland.
We look at five key talking points ahead of Saturday's clash...
Biggar is back
Dan Biggar limped off against Ireland but has recovered from that ankle injury and has been named in the No 10 jersey. Rhys Priestland did a great job for Wales when he came on but Biggar will be keen to assert himself against Scotland.
His boot will play a key role in keeping the scoreboard ticking over and kicking for territory. It will be interesting to see if Wales stick with their desire to play more rugby out wide - if so then Biggar's playmaking skills will also need to be spot on.
Warren Gatland has admitted that perhaps they played too laterally last time out and we could see Biggar sending the likes of Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts on a more direct approach.
History against Scots
Scotland have won just one of their last 13 matches with Wales - that victory coming back in 2007 when Chris Patterson kicked seven penalties for a 21-9 win at Murrayfield.
The chances of Scotland defying the odds in Cardiff on Saturday are slim and while former Scotland scrum-half Rory Lawson is hoping for the win, he says the performance is the most important thing on Saturday.
He said: "This is a huge game for Scotland. A lot of people won't be expecting Scotland to go down there and come away with anything but within this group there is a great challenge.
"A big performance against a Welsh side who themselves will be frustrated with their draw against Ireland will be a big measure as to where Scotland are. I'm hoping for a win but the performance has to be there to even be in the hunt for that."
Scotland have made one change with Duncan Taylor coming in at inside centre for the injured Matt Scott. Taylor is used to winning with Saracens and Scotland will be hoping that some of that will rub off.
His defence is also pretty solid and it will need to be against Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts. Roberts got a lot of headlines for his defensive work against Ireland but Davies was just as impressive with some big tackles of his own and some lovely deft touches from hand and boot.
Scotland are a side that we have a good record against in recent times, but we've had to work hard to attain that record.
Davies wins his 50th cap on Saturday and is hoping for a better start and a better result against Scotland.
"Execution against Ireland let us down towards the end but it's a result we can't change so our focus has now shifted to Scotland," said Davies in his column for Sky Sports.
"Scotland are a side that we have a good record against in recent times, but we've had to work hard to attain that record. They have improved immensely under Vern Cotter, so we know we have to work even harder to come away with another win."
Possession, Possession, Possession
Scotland are not blessed with any real cutting edge on attack apart from full-back Stuart Hogg. Their aim will be to control possession and work through the phases, hoping that Wales make a defensive slip or give away a penalty.
The key man for the Scots will be John Hardie, who was excellent at the breakdown against England and will once again be called upon to take control alongside John Barclay. Like Scotland, Wales have also opted for two openside flankers in Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton.
Against Ireland, referee Jerome Garces barely penalised the breakdown but referee George Clancy is much more of a stickler in this area and it should be fiercely contested. Throw in two big rampaging No 8s in David Denton and Taulupe Faletau and we are in for a titanic battle.
As already mentioned, it will be interesting to see if Wales persist with their desire to attack the outside. They are still trying to get their new style of play going, however their desire to play a bit more rugby is not quite working at the moment.
Wales did not make too many line breaks against Ireland but they did manage to get the ball wide and on the outside of five or six times, but could not make it count.
"We created the opportunities, we just have to let the ball go and finish them," said Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones. "But you could see a definite shift in the attempt to play that way and finish those opportunities."
However, former Wales winger Ieuan Evans believes the pressure on George North to break his try drought is creating a dilemma in attack. North has not scored a try in the last five Tests and his desire to look for more work is at odds with this new style of play.
"Wales have tasked George North with finding more work, but the problem with looking for more work is that you are often in the wrong areas," explained Evans on the Sky Sports rugby podcast.
"If North had held his width a couple of times instead of coming in to look for work, then he would have got the ball when Wales went wide instead of second rowers or props."
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Rob Evans, 2 Scott Baldwin, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Luke Charteris, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Anscombe.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c); 1 Alasdair Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford, 3 Willem Nel, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 John Barclay, 7 John Hardie, 8 David Denton.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Sean Lamont.