FORMER British Lion Martyn Williams insists it will be “same old Scotland” if they fail to kick off their 6 Nations campaign with victory over Wales in Cardiff next Saturday.
Optimism is high after excellent performances in the Autumn Internationals, but that will count for nothing if they fail to win.
The Scots haven’t won in the Welsh capital since 2002 and haven’t beaten anyone other than Italy away from home in the Six Nations since 2010.
But they are facing a Wales team missing a host of key players.
Only last week, first-choice half-back pairing Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar were ruled out through injury.
With the Welsh facing trips to Twickenham and Dublin in the following two games, Williams knows the opening 80 minutes could set the tone for both countries.
“The Scots were outstanding in the autumn,” says the Welshman. “They played as well as any of the Home Nations.
“In Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour, they have three ‘X Factor players’ who are dangerous against anyone.
“They also have a group that has played together for a few years and are full of confidence.
“We know they are a really good side at Murrayfield and can beat anyone on their day up there.
“But it will be in the back of their minds that they haven’t won a big 6 Nations game away from home for a few years.
“Under Warren Gatland, Wales have been very strong at the Principality Stadium.
“If Scotland lose, everyone will be saying it’s ‘same old Scotland’. That makes the game huge.
“Wales are missing six or seven Lions because of injuries, so not much is expected of them.
“But they wouldn’t want to go to Twickenham the week after having lost.”
Williams was twice a Grand Slam winner with Wales in 2005 and 2008 and is expecting another exciting Championship.
He’ll be part of the BBC commentary team for the match, and believes that the opener in Cardiff could set the tone.
“It’s wide open,” he assesses. “Italy are a little behind the rest, but you can make an argument for any of the other five.
“We have a brilliant game to kick it all off.
“Wales-Scotland matches are usually very enjoyable and high-scoring with fast, free-flowing rugby.
“I can’t see it being any different this time.
“One team will have to score at least three tries to win.”
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