I can’t tell you how glad I am that the Six Nations is back this weekend. I do not enjoy these breaks in between games and personally I’d rather they were eradicated. The tournament loses its flow and it’s difficult for people to get really excited and we should be excited given that as the tournament starts to draw to a close there is real potential for an exciting finale.
Thankfully the rugby is back, and we take on Scotland tomorrow in a must-win game. I’m feeling fairly confident but I believe that it may well be a tough game given how Scotland have performed so far this tournament. To get us all in the mood I just thought I’d take a look at some of the tactics I’d look to employ at Murrayfield tomorrow.
One of the massive plusses to come out of the game in Rome was the way that we took the Italian scrum to the cleaners. Both Gethin and Adam responded fantastically well to the criticism leveled at them and they utterly dominated the Italian front row. This provided us with plenty of penalties and consigned Castro to the bin for 10 minutes – a yellow card that contributed towards one of our tries.
We need to look to exert the same dominance at scrum time against Scotland and with an exceptionally strong front 5 I believe that we have the minerals to do just that. Euan Murray is a quality tight head but he’ll be up against Paul James who is probably our best scrummaging loose head. If we can gain the upper hand in this area I think we can really tire the Scottish pack out. Forcing penalties in this area will also help to give us field position and with Alun Wyn back our lineout should function well which means that we should be able to launch quite a few attacks via these means.
Our gameplan in Rome was forced upon us by the weather conditions and we did what we had to to get the win, but I’d like to see us kick a lot less tomorrow. The main threat that Scotland pose is contained in their back 3 and if we starve them of possession by not kicking to them we’ll go a long way to finishing the game with our try line intact.
Rather than kicking we should look to build phase after phase using Faletau, AW Jones, Warburton and Ianto to get over the gainline. The Scottish backrow are big but they don’t seem to have a massive presence at the breakdown so hopefully our ball will be secure enough. Once we’ve made ground via our forwards Dan Biggar needs to put the ball through the hands and get Halfpenny, North and Cuthbert into the game. More on that…
Use our back three
Obviously our foremost desire has to be to win the game, but we can’t overlook the fact that if we can put a few points on Scotland then we have an opportunity of potentially retaining the Six Nations crown with a good win over England next weekend. In order to stand any chance of this we have to score tries. Given that our centre partnership is effective but relatively impotent in attack we need to get the ball to our strike runners. Halfpenny needs to start entering the line at pace and offering himself on the shoulder of Roberts or Davies as well as offering himself as a second receiver to put the two wingers in space. Bish bash bosh may win us the game but it’ll lose us the championship if we can’t start to make up the points difference by scoring a few tries.
Use the bench
This may seem presumptuous but if we’ve built a safe enough lead by the 50 minute mark, Howley needs to seriously think about introducing the bench earlier. James Hook, Lloyd Williams and Justin Tipuric are all potentially game changers and if the game looks safe we need to get these guys on to try and rack up the points. The more points we score tomorrow the easier our job will be next week.
How would you beat the Scots? Let us know in the comments box below.