Scotland: Following their historic 27-22 victory over Ireland on the inaugural weekend – their first opening day victory for 11 years – Scotland came agonisingly short against France in Paris a fortnight ago. The 22-16 loss ended their Grand Slam dream, but Vern Cotter’s side should remain buoyed by their performance at the Stade de France, a losing bonus point the least they deserved for their spirited showing.
Wales: Wales began their campaign with a 33-7 triumph away to Italy, though they failed to pick up a four-try bonus point. Two weeks ago in Cardiff, Rob Howley’s men surrendered a narrow five-point lead to lose to England at the death. In a quality Test match bursting with drama and emotion, the Red Dragon could - and maybe should - have won, and they’ll hope to bounce back this weekend.
Despite Scotland’s impressive showing in Paris, their scrum floundered once again. In the face of an unrelenting French assault on their weakened set-piece, the Scottish pack struggled to contain the French eight at times. Inexperienced Test props Allan Dell and Zander Fagerson will once again be targeted at the coalface, and the duo will be looking for an improved scrummaging performance. They need to set a more solid platform for their impressive backs to play off at BT Murrayfield.
The home side are 13/2 to score the first try on Saturday and Stuart Hogg, the tournament’s current joint top try-scorer with three tries, has been a stand-out performer alongside second-row Jonny Gray - current joint top tackler with 42.
Scotland – 17/2 to beat Wales by 11-15 points - haven’t defeated their visitors since 2008, and the loss of Greig Laidlaw and Josh Strauss for the rest of the tournament through injury is a blow to their chances of securing a second win in three games. Both have impressed in the opening rounds, with concern now over the fitness of back-row forward John Barclay. Furthermore, John Hardie, Alex Dunbar and Fraser Brown all came off the field of play with injuries against Les Bleus but are expected to be fit for this weekend’s encounter.
Wales – a tempting 6/1 to prevail by 6-10 points this weekend - will have been frustrated in camp this week after falling to an exasperating defeat against Grand Slam-chasing England at the Principality Stadium. The likes of Ross Moriarty and Jake Ball fronted up in Cardiff, as did try-scorer Liam Williams. Williams has made five clean breaks in the opening two rounds, the most in the tournament so far.
Winger Alex Cuthbert has been left out of the squad following a disappointing showing against England, and George North may come back into the XV after missing the previous round through injury, as could Bath’s Toby Faletau, used as a replacement two weeks ago.
Wales will be looking for their tenth consecutive victory over Scotland, a run stretching back nine years. The latest was a 27-23 win in last season’s corresponding fixture, though given how their backs are performing at present, Scotland should be quietly confident they can claim another home scalp this weekend.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: Scotland to win by 6-10 points – 11/2
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.