Title contenders Wales and Scotland collide on Saturday.
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde reckons Scotland will prove a “tough nut to crack” for the visitors when the Celtic rivals meet in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Both teams head into the match on the back of consecutive wins and remain in title contention behind unbeaten leaders England.
Wales and Scotland are level on four points on each with the Welsh currently in second place thanks to a superior points difference.
But even though Wales have won their last five Tests against Scotland, McBryde expects a gruelling contest.
Scotland produced one of rugby’s great escapes in seeing off Ireland 12-8 at Murrayfield last time out even though the visitors, who scored the only try of the game, enjoyed colossal dominance in terms of both territory and possession.
More than anyone, the Scots accept they cannot concede so much field position and ball if they are to defeat Wales in a match where both teams will want to utilise dynamic back threes featuring contenders for this year’s British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
“Scotland are going to be a tough nut to crack,” McBryde said.
“I would imagine their confidence levels will be buoyed after the last win against Ireland. If they can win with that amount of possession and territory, then I am sure they will be looking to build on that.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us — Murrayfield is never an easy place to come.”
And Wales skills coach Neil Jenkins added: “Scotland are on the back of a couple of good wins. It will be a full stadium and a fantastic atmosphere.
“If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep playing like we can, we’ve got a great chance,” the former Wales fly-half added. “We do like to play with ball in hand, but at the end of the day it is all about winning.”
Wales have bolstered a pack that did a fine job of overpowering Italy’s forwards in Rome a fortnight ago by recalling openside flanker Sam Warburton, last season’s Grand Slam-winning captain, and experienced lock Alun-Wyn Jones.
“We raised our game as a pack of forwards against Italy, and I think we are in a good place at the moment,” McBryde said. “We are confident we can put Scotland under a bit of pressure and ask some questions of them.”
Despite Warburton’s return, his back-row colleague Ryan Jones remains captain and will lead Wales for the 32nd time on Saturday to extend his own already existing national record.
“Ryan has learnt a lot from his past experiences as a captain and as a player,” McBryde said as he reflected on a woeful 2012 end-of-year series that saw Wales lose all four of their Tests at home to Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
“We sat down and spoke about the autumn (series) at the start of this campaign. He was pretty disappointed with the autumn, but I think he has been able to put that experience to good use without forcing it.”