Scotland v Wales- six nations rugby betting preview & tips
230pm GMT, Saturday Mar 9th 2013, BBC television.
Six Nations Rugby Odds current best – Scotland +5 evs in Bet365, Wales -4 10/11 in Sportingbet
Edinburgh Weather No rain, but Brass-monkeys all the same (-4C)
If you had bumped yourself into a coma after watching the opening weekend of this year’s Six Nations, only to wake up now and see both of these sides still challenging for the title, you’d be forgiven for rolling over and demanding another jab in the bum from nurse Ratchett. It has been a weird tournament so far to say the least, and few players on either side would have forecasted two wins on the trot after that opening weekend of Scotland and Wales get smashed.
The Welsh trajectory
Wales stumbled into this tournament off the back of a near record number of losses, and were comprehensively beaten by Ireland on the opening weekend, whatever about the 8 points difference in the final scoreline. But all credit to them, they rolled with the punches on unsteady ground (literally) in Paris and grabbed that game by the balls when the French couldn’t. That game could have been very different had a simple pass gone to Benjamin Fall after about 20 minutes when France were on the Welsh five metre line. But the pass didn’t go as the ball carrier (Fofana?) opted to cut back inside, Wales defended, and for the rest of the game France couldn’t muster another decent attack. Credit has to go to Wales for ending the losing run they were on (and the associated psychological torment), by overcoming the French in Paris. It was a percentage squeeze game plan that worked, and they were due some luck after the rotten run they had been on.
Suddenly, no one could see them losing in Rome. Wales went there expecting to win and they did. However, the scars were still evident in the final 20 minutes as neutrals everywhere willed them to go and score more points and set up a decent finale with England on the final day of the tournament. The opportunities were there to score at least one more try but Wales weren’t interested/weren’t able to press it home and close further the points gap on England, and they were happy to sit on the lead they had – and who could blame them. There’s more to this than meets the eye methinks – Wales definitely weren’t panicking over the points difference with Scotland up next.
The Scottish trajectory
Scotland are far easier to sum up. They came into the tournament after an embarrassing Autumn, and then new coach Scott Johnson then embarrassed himself with his cheeky grin and ‘we’ll give you a surprise’ antics prior to the England game. The only surprise was that England were so poor they didn’t put 60 points on Scotland, and needed injury time to beat the 16 point handicap. Scotland backed off, fell off tackles/didn’t tackle/played with their tackle as England robots went through the motions and made gainline after gainline against a defence that itself was going through the motions.
Scotland were like the blow-up bumpers that bowling-alleys put down on ten pin bowling lanes for kids – England bounced slowly forward from side to side, and you always knew where the ball would eventually end up once they got rolling against the accommodating Scottish inflatables. (Henry Gondorff – Passionate trainspotter, and rugby poet)
The game against Italy was bizarre. Italy played all the ball, had all the brainfarts and a few Scotland lads proved they can run really fast in a straight line. That’s literally all I could take from that game.
Then came another tale of the unexpected v Ireland. If you had been shown the stats and had to guess the score you’d have said Ireland 30, Scotland 6. Ireland had 80% possession and lost 12-8. But even forgetting that, Ireland still lost even when Wayne Barnes handed them a mysterious golden ticket in injury time that they couldn’t make use of, awarding Ireland a penalty on a Scottish scrum on their own line in injury time – Wayne loves a bit of controversy.
There’s been very little of note in the team news relative to recent weeks. Weir starts for Scotland ahead of Jackson and that brings a slightly better territorial boot into play. Wynn Jones will bring a bit of annoying dog as he makes his full comeback from injury and Warburton gets a start with Tipuric on the bench. I’m not a huge fan of Howley but I think this could be a nice touch; Warburton wants to play for the lions so will work his arse off to earn penalties in the first half on the ground; and Tipuric was a brilliant link-man off the bench against Ireland and can be again on Saturday (a possible Lions bolter himself at this point). Wales need to chase points, and Tipuric is ideal to bring in and help with scoring tries as things opens up.
As far as the set-piece goes, I don’t see much difference in the sides. The line out should be pretty even, and the scrum may be shaded by Wales, but that may be cancelled out by Paul James; It all depends if referee Craig Joubert was watching the Premiership last weekend, when James was given a particularly hard time by the ref against Gloucester. Joubert is a bit like Ron Burgundy – he’ll read whatever you put on the teleprompter – so it all depends on what magical mind fairies are pulling his strings this time. Who’s side will he be on this week? Who knows. I think this game is going to come down to sheer quality and hunger and I think Wales have that battle well won in almost every position bar scrumhalf, and particularly from 10 to 15.
One key set of stats that jumped out at me in trying to figure out this game was the difference in the tackling stats for both teams.
[table id=33 /]
As you can see, Scotland have made a hundred or so more tackles than Wales, in games that were arguably easier compared to the games Wales have played. Also, there’s a huge gulf in the amount of tackles both sides have missed, with Scotland having missed nearly double the men Wales have. When you correlate the propensity for Scotland to miss tackles and the fact that they will get tired in this game owing to their tackle profile (even with the two weeks off) it doesn’t take a genius to assume Wales will find big holes to exploit.
Six nations Betting Verdict;
Take the -4 available in Sportingbet (everyone else is -5 bar Bluesquare who are also -4). Scotland have been very lucky so far that Luke Marshall, Keith Earls, and Luciano Orquera all forgot how to pass in Edinburgh. Scotland will definitely tire and Wales have all the motivation – Scotland have already exceeded expectations and Wales should get scores. This is one of those rare occasions in the Six Nations when a team has to go for points and has the capability to do so; Wales can’t pull off their dream Cinderella story and ruin England’s chances of a Championship title unless they beat Scotland by a decent margin to maintain a realistic hope of overcoming the points deficit. If Wales run up a good score, all the pressure will be on England on a wet and dirty day in Twickenham on Sunday v Italy, and England haven’t seen much pressure recently. Wales hopped against France and scraped through, they skipped against Italy and consolidated, they’re definitely planning to jump against Scotland. There are few more powerful motivators for a Welshman than the chance of raining on an Englishman’s parade.
Try scorers side punts
– Ordinarily Tryscorers in these games are a bit of a lottery but Paddypower are refunding any losing tryscorer stakes back if a forward scores the first try. Wales look set up to maybe pummel with the forwards in the first half, and see what opens up in the second, so there’s a reasonable aspiration that you’ll at least get your money back here if something doesn’t work out for you. Alex Cuthbert blew two or three chances against Italy with poor handling and he looked livid with himself, despite getting in for a try. You can have no doubt he has been working on his handling for the past two weeks, and it should be dry on Saturday. Pasypower are biggest 17/2 for him to be first tryscorer this weekend and he is definitely most likely for me. For a smaller return, he’s 15/8 for anytime tryscorer which is not to be sniffed at either and might be the better option – he’ll be up against Visser a fair bit on Saturday for 80 minutes, and Visser is not the greatest defender (and neither is Cuthbert for that matter). The ideal scenario here then would be a forward to get the first try and for us to be sitting on a free bet for the remainder waiting on Cuthbert to gallop away.
Jonathan Davies is also biggest 14/1 in Paddypower for first try, and he got one against Italy too. Davies is usually there or thereabouts and it was down the centre that Ireland and Italy got plenty of change against Scotland.
Unusually, Paddypower have the biggest first tryscorer odds for these two along with the money back special, so I’ve stuck a small few quid on both to score first, and backed Cuthbert anytime. He’s unlikeley to be substituted, and when this game opens up he should get very close.
Join our rugby betting forum for all the latest six nations rugby betting tips, odds developments and banter. Or you can comment below using facebook, twitter, or wordpress.com.