ON the face of it, Scotland have little or no chance of beating Wales in Cardiff this evening.

The bookies say it all – Wales are 1-5 chances, with Scotland a thumping 11-2 against.

All the stats say Wales: under head coach Warren Gatland, Wales have won every Six Nations meeting with the Scots since 2008 even though Scotland came very close twice in that period.

In 2010, Scotland were homing in on victory only for Stephen Jones to level things with his boot and Shane Williams to find even more time to race under the posts.

Last year it was just as heartbreaking for the Scots with the 26-23 loss at Murrayfield.

Look back two years, however, to the Cardiff Catastrophe. Stuart Hogg’s red card presaged a quite horrendous performance that saw the Scots humiliated by a record 51-3 score against them by Wales.

If Scotland are to show the real extent of their improvement it must be today. A loss is just not acceptable, and a win with the kind of performance that ended the Welsh “golden age” in 1982 – one of the greatest of all Scottish wins, 34-18 and that fabulous try by Jim Calder – would electrify the sport here.

There is a theory that the Scots perform better in wind and rain, but that has been comprehensively disproved, not least because head coach Vern Cotter has requested that the roof be closed over the Principality Stadium, as we must learn to call it.

Certainly the poor weather seemed to bog down the Scottish backs last weekend, though if Finn Russell had seen Stuart Hogg galloping on his outside instead of kicking the ball away, Scotland might well have won the Calcutta Cup and we would be praising the lighting breaks that the backs have won matches with.

We may see more of those from Scotland this afternoon, as Hogg, Russell and co will be joined by Duncan Taylor who has made a number of searing breaks for Saracens this season.

He makes his first RBS 6 Nations appearance since 2014 after replacing injured No. 12 Matt Scott, and is the only change in the starting XV, suggesting that Cotter knows he has a good side and wants to stick with it.

There is now little excuse for Scotland not to find the try-line at the Principality, and they could have an advantage against the Welsh who may be the biggest team in world rugby – they were so at the World Cup – but who were given an almighty battering by the Irish in a brutal, bruising encounter in Dublin last weekend.

The Welsh have had a day less than Scotland to recover after that monumental battle, and it may just be the day that John Hardie, John Barclay and David Denton plus the Gray brothers are able to show their paces around the pitch.

Gatland was very complimentary this week: “Vern Cotter has made them hard to beat. And when a team is hard to beat, it only takes a lucky bounce or a referee’s call and you’re suddenly winning.”

For his part, Cotter remains optimistic: “Last year we came last in the RBS 6 Nations and were very disappointed. Now we’re getting into situations where we can win. That’s exciting. Hopefully the players will get the opportunity to nail a big game.” There would be no better time to do it than today.