Why Nigel Owens thinks Wales will beat Scotland
Former international referee Nigel Owens has told William Hill that the “electric” atmosphere of the Principality Stadium should provide the perfect platform for Wales to see off Scotland when they meet in the Six Nations, but that Wayne Pivac’s side will need to up their game this weekend.
Wales welcome Scotland to the Principality Stadium on Saturday needing a result, having suffered a 29-7 loss to Ireland last weekend, and Owens is adamant the home side must show major improvement if they are to defeat the visitors this weekend.
“Wales are definitely going to have to up their game against Scotland, and they will probably make a couple of changes,” the Welshman told William Hill. “Scotland played well against England (last weekend), they stayed in the game, and in those critical moments they showed they are capable of beating anyone at Murrayfield. They’re going to come to Cardiff confident this weekend, so it’s going to be a big ask for Wales again, a tough game for Wales and a hard one to call.
“But Wales are going to improve and I think they will beat Scotland. One, playing at home in front of their brilliant supporters will make the difference, and two, Scotland haven’t won at the Principality Stadium since 2002.
“Wales are a better side than they showed against Ireland and home advantage should just be enough to help secure a win. When the place is packed the atmosphere at the Principality Stadium is electric, the stadium builds up a great atmosphere. As far as an atmosphere goes inside a stadium, it was my favourite stadium to referee in.”
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Owens added: “Wales were always going to have it tough against Ireland. If they’d really played well and upped their game they could have won it, but unfortunately Ireland were too good for Wales. It could come down to France v Ireland this weekend for who wins that Grand Slam, and Wales will be disappointed with that.
“They were in the game up to half-time against Ireland but were unable to put points on the board, but it was as I expected. Ireland were too good for Wales. It was a disappointing day in Dublin, which is a difficult place to go at the best of times.”
While Owens was disappointed with Wales’ performance against Ireland, he was encouraged by Dan Biggar’s start to life as captain.
“I thought Dan Biggar did a good job as captain,” he said. “He got the balance right with the communication to the referee. He did a decent job and I’m really pleased for him as he has the capability to be a very good captain.
“It’s very difficult to be a captain in a game like that against Ireland when you’re well beaten, but this weekend is going to be tighter and if key decisions are going to be key to the outcome of the game, his captaincy will be even more important. He will have learnt and built on that experience over the weekend and hopefully he will continue to do that.”
Wales saw Josh Adams shown a yellow card against Ireland for an off-the-ball hit on Jonathan Sexton and Owens says he was lucky it was not red.
“It was 100% the correct decision,” he said. “Josh was lucky there. He’s not a dirty player but he obviously got a bit frustrated with the way the game was going and not being able to get back into the game. He went into Sexton with the shoulder and the yellow card was 100% correct.
“He’s lucky as if he’d been an inch higher or Sexton’s head had been an inch lower, that would have been a red card. Even in the frustrations of the game we have to ensure player safety is still paramount. My message to players is don’t go in with the shoulder to anybody as it’s foul play and if you get it wrong you’re going to be off for the game.”
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