A SELL-out crowd at Murrayfield on Saturday will be hoping that Scotland can complete a rare hat-trick of wins in the RBS 6 Nations, writes Stuart Cameron.
And there is no reason why Scotland cannot do to Wales what they did to Ireland two weeks ago. But every Scottish fan will looking to witness a better performance than was given against the Irish when Declan Kidney’s men threw the match away after dominating territory and possession.
I wrote last week that the one change I wanted to see was at fly half, where Ruaridh Jackson failed to get us into a good position on the park. This is an area of the game which is one of Duncan Weir’s strengths, as he admitted to me when I met up with him on Tuesday as the team was being announced.
Coach Scott Johnson threw a bit of a curve ball by allowing Weir to return to play for Glasgow Warriors last week. Many in the media assumed that meant he was not going to start for Scotland. In fact, he desperately needed game time and his run out for the Warriors did the trick, as he was able to remind us what he is capable of. But he told me that he didn’t actually know he had been given his first start for Scotland until the day before the team announcement on Tuesday afternoon.
Euan Murray’s return to the side has been greeted with mixed reactions, particularly in the Borders, where former Gala player Geoff Cross has a lot of support. He was one of Scotland’s best players against Ireland and deserved to hold his spot in the starting team. Murray of course doesn’t do Sundays because of his religious beliefs, but the fact that both Scott Johnson and Andy Robinson cannot seem to do without him when he is available shows how highly he is rated, and there are many who believe he is good enough to be on the Lions tour. Cross will be on the bench, but he will have a key part to play if and when he comes on.
Someone who may well be running on in a Scottish jersey for the very first time is Ryan Wilson, who has been outstanding for Glasgow Warriors this season.
He is currently rooming with Ryan Grant, also a team-mate at Glasgow, and he’s admitted to asking the other starting prop exactly what it will be like when he experiences the excitement of a day out with the Scottish team. I’m sure he won’t be disappointed.
All the Scottish players know they have to tighten up at the back, be aggressive at the contact area, and give their talented backs space to work in. I predict a high-scoring game and a Scottish win.
Scotland team to play Wales in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at Murrayfield on Saturday (ko 2.30pm): S. Hogg; S. Maitland, S. Lamont, M. Scott, T. Visser; D. Weir, G. Laidlaw; R. Grant, R. Ford, E. Murray, R. Gray, J. Hamilton, R. Harley, K. Brown, J. Beattie. Subs: D. Hall, M. Low, G. Cross, A. Kellock, R. Wilson, H. Pyrgos, R. Jackson, M. Evans.
z The good news is that there will be a Borders side in the final of the Scottish Cup again this season; the bad news is that it won’t be an all-Border affair, with Gala and Melrose being drawn together in the semi-final at Netherdale on Saturday, March 30.
In the other semi-final, Dundee will face Ayr at Mayfield.
There are no Premier games in the Borders this weekend, while in the National League, Kelso play host to Glasgow Hawks and Selkirk welcome Biggar.