Scotland’s trip to Wales kicks off Super Saturday on October 31 and Gregor Townsend’s men still have it all to play for.
Third going into the rescheduled final round of fixtures, Scotland are in with a mathematical shot – albeit a slender one – of bringing the Championship crown back to Edinburgh for the first time since the final year of the Five Nations in 1999.
Though finishing top of the table could prove a step too far, Scotland will be hoping to end their Championship on a high and know that victory at Parc y Scarlets will ensure they improve on last year’s fifth-place finish.
Captain Stuart Hogg said recently he was “buzzing” to return to Scotland action as they look to continue on from where they left off following some impressive results in the spring – here’s how his side are set ahead of the resumption.
STORY SO FAR
The 2020 Championship has been one of two halves for Townsend’s charges so far.
The first two rounds saw Scotland slip to successive defeats without scoring a try but they surged back to record impressive back-to-back victories and climb to their current position of third.
They began with a tough trip to Dublin, where Ireland edged a cagey opening weekend encounter 19-12 with Johnny Sexton scoring all the home side’s points.
Adam Hastings did likewise for Scotland but they couldn’t find a way past a stoic Irish defence and the following week’s Calcutta Cup clash began with both sides looking for a first win of the Championship.
Conditions were tricky for both sides at a wet and windy BT Murrayfield and a tight game was locked at 3-3 going into the final 10 minutes.
Ellis Genge’s try proved decisive as England won 13-6 to claim the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 2017 and leave Scotland seeking a change in fortunes.
Townsend’s side got up and running in Round 3 with an accomplished performance in Rome.
Hogg’s superb solo score – his first as skipper – set the ball rolling in the first half before Chris Harris and Hastings crossed after the break to wrap up a 17-0 victory.
Next up, Scotland welcomed a France side who had won their opening three matches and arrived in Edinburgh looking to continue on their quest for a first Grand Slam since 2010.
A confident home side put paid to those hopes, however, with Sean Maitland crossing twice and Stuart McInally also going over to help Scotland earn a 28-17 triumph.
Townsend’s side will be hoping they can quickly recapture that form when they return to action later this month as they seek a first win in Wales since 2002.
HOW CAN THEY WIN IT?
First things first, Scotland need to beat Wales to stand any chance of finishing top of the table – then rely on other results going their way.
A Scotland win would have to be combined with Italy beating both Ireland and England, then France’s match with Ireland ending in a draw, for Townsend’s men to be crowned champions.
It seems unlikely – but you just never know…
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The big news from Scotland’s squad announcement on Monday was the return of Finn Russell, the supremely gifted fly-half who is set to feature in a Scotland jersey for the first time since the 2019 World Cup.
The 28-year-old has been in fine form for Racing 92 and will go up against his international captain Stuart Hogg in the upcoming European Champions Cup final.
Hogg has also helped Exeter Chiefs into the English Premiership final, alongside fellow Scotland stars Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner, while Gray’s brother Richie Gray returns to the squad having missed the Guinness Six Nations matches earlier this year.
Townsend has also handed a first a call-up to Duhan van der Merwe, the South African-born Edinburgh star who became eligible for selection over the summer.
Van der Merwe was almost unstoppable at times for Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14 last season, topping the charts for clean breaks (32), defenders beaten (80) and metres gained (971), and Scotland supporters will be keen to see what impact he can have in the international arena.