Dragons wary of mauling by revived Scots

Click to follow
The Independent Online

There is little doubt which team is favourite tomorrow. Scotland's immense victory over France last week not only stunned Les Bleus, it shattered preconceptions for this season's RBS Six Nations Championship And tomorrow afternoon the Blues of Scotland are expected to douse the fire of the Dragons, who come into the game on the back of a hiding against England at Twickenham.

The Welsh are certainly not denying Scotland's right to favouritism either. Their coach, Mike Ruddock, acknowledged: "There was a lot of passion with the Scots' performance and a lot of good quality rugby, which put France under pressure."

They already sound better than Wales, who produced an error-ridden showing against England. And while the Scots' line-out was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of their Murrayfield miracle - five lost on their own throw - their maul was something else, as Ruddock admitted.

In addition to all that there will be the memory of last year's heavy defeat against Wales. It leaves Gareth Thomas and his men with a forbidding task.

"They will come down with a bitter taste in their mouths after what happened last year," Thomas said. "They will be wanting to put the record straight." There is nothing like talking up the opposition. But Jason White, Thomas's opposite number is making sure that his men's feet are firmly on the ground.

"I'm conscious that the last four games have been at home, so to go away is another big test," said the Sale Sharks back rower. "The Millennium Stadium will be going bananas and Wales will be looking to play well in front of their own crowd."

But according to Thomas being at home works against Wales as well. "The next game is the biggest game for us because it is at home."

Home or away is ultimately immaterial; both teams want to win. While the unchanged Wales team is perfectly capable of turning it on, as they did last season when they completed the Grand Slam, Scotland are on the front foot.

And, as White pointed out: "We just need to do the same things we did well against France and improve on the few things that we didn't do so well." They will certainly take some countering. Ruddock claims that they have plans in place to sort out the Scotland driving maul, but possibly the most important thing will be attitude. As long as the Welsh do not dwell on that nightmare opener they could still give the Scots a run for their money.

Thomas admitted: "We still need a big improvement on last week. We need to be a lot more physical. We went in last week with a flair attitude - whatever happened we will run and play - but we need a bit more nous.

"And we are positive boys, so one defeat, two defeats, three defeats won't take away from what our strengths are - and they are enjoyment, fun and enjoying being together."

They might end up having to hold on to that, if they fail to hold on to the ball and victory.

Comments