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Rupert Wyman 7th Feb 2009 - 11:24

Wales to wallop Scotland

Wales begin the defence of their Six Nations title with a visit to Murrayfield to face Scotland.

Wales won the Grand Slam last year and they should still be on course for it following their 2009 opener, despite the fact that Wales have only won once in their last five trips to Murrayfield.

Scotland are the underdogs for the victory at odds of 7/4 with Wales 8/15 favourites and the draw available at 22/1.

The 8/15 has to be backed as Wales have so much more talent than their Scottish counterparts and also have the lethal ability to score tries which Scotland often lack.

On the main handicap Scotland get a five point start with both sides priced at 10/11 and the draw at 14/1.

Wales in all likelihood will beat Frank Hadden's Scotland side by more than the five points offered on the main handicap. So it would be probably wise to back Wales on an alternative handicap line to get more value for money.

The bet looks to be Wales with a ten point deficit which is a 6/4 shot.

Wales have much of their 2008 Grand Slam winning team for this year's campaign with some quality additions including winger Leigh Halfpenny.

Halfpenny is a 12/1 shot to score the first try of the match and this looks a bit of value. His fellow winger Shane Williams is priced at 9/1. But as good as Williams is this looks a bit short.

Centre Gavin Henson has pulled out of the Scotland match due to injury and has been replaced by his centre-partner from last year's team Tom Shanklin. Shanklin is a try scorer candidate himself and appeals at 3/1 to score a try at any point during the 80 minutes.

For Scotland their game normally relies on the reliable kicking game of Chris Paterson and some dogged forward play so it is probably best to avoid Scotland's players in the try scorer markets.

However Hadden has taken a gamble by only selecting Paterson on the bench and not picking a specialist kicker in his XV so Scotland's game plan could be rather interesting. Fly-half Phil Godman will get the kicking responsibilities but he is no Paterson.

Paterson is Scotland's all-time leading points scorer and in the last two years against Wales has kicked all of Scotland's points thus underlying his importance to Hadden's side.

Whatever happens in the match the vocal home support will look to rally their men but it is highly unlikely that even Murrayfield filled with Scottish bravehearts roaring on the team will have desired effect as Wales' team is far superior. The match should be a spectacle and bring the first 2009 Six Nations weekend to a fitting close.

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