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Fri 13 Mar 2020 | 10:22

Six Nations predictions: Wales v Scotland

Six Nations predictions: Wales v Scotland
Fri 13 Mar 2020 | 10:22
Six Nations predictions: Wales v Scotland
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PREVIEW: The scheduled ‘Super Saturday’ finale of the 2020 Six Nations Championship will now see just the match between Wales and Scotland going ahead after the coronavirus pandemic ripped up sporting schedules around the world.

This weekend’s fixtures between France and Ireland in Paris and Italy and England in Rome have been postponed as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, with last week’s match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin going the same way.

No new dates have yet been announced for the delayed games, with officials now having to find gaps in rugby union’s already congested schedule.

It may be the Championship cannot now be completed until October at the earliest.

That could mean teams such as England having to play Tests on five successive weekends given their November programme, a prospect that raises player-welfare concerns.

But rugby union’s own cross-border Pro14 club competition suspended, Six Nations chiefs will be glad that at least one game is still ‘on’ this Saturday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday a ban on major UK public events, including sports fixtures, was being “considered”.

Significantly, however, no such ban has yet been put in place.

The British government’s chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance, defended the policy, which could see a crowd of over 70,000 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, when many smaller gatherings are being postponed or cancelled outright.

“On average, one person infects two or three others,” Vallance said.

“You, therefore, have a very low probability of infecting a large number of people in a stadium and a rather higher probability of infecting people very close to you.

“And that means that most of the transmission actually tends to take place with friends and colleagues and those in close environments – and not in the big environments.”

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Jones landmark

Meanwhile, Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to equal the world record for most international appearances on Saturday.

Jones’ 148th Test, a tally that includes nine internationals for the British and Irish Lions, will see the 34-year-old lock draw level with retired former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, the All Blacks’ World Cup-winning skipper in 2011 and 2015.

“Alun Wyn is one of the most iconic figures in the game, he is our leader and I am delighted for him as he continues to set the bar across the game,” said Wales coach Wayne Pivac.

This has been a tricky first season at the helm for Pivac, who succeeded Warren Gatland after his fellow New Zealander took Wales to the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup.

Defeat on Saturday would mean Wales had lost four successive Championship matches for the first time since 2007.

Pivac has responded to last week’s 33-30 reverse against England at Twickenham by making four changes to his side, with experienced scrum-half Rhys Webb, lock Cory Hill, uncapped prop WillGriff John and fellow front-row Wyn Jones all coming into the starting XV.

By contrast, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, under pressure after not playing Finn Russell this tournament following the highly-publicised breakdown of his relationship with the gifted flyhalf, will arrive in the Welsh capital following his side’s back-to-back wins over Italy and France, with last week’s 28-17 home success at Murrayfield denying ‘Les Bleus’ a Grand Slam.

Victory would mean Scotland had won three consecutive Championship matches for the first time since the 1996 Five Nations, as well as securing their first win in Cardiff for 18 years when Townsend was their flyhalf in a 27-22 success.

“We set out this season to improve our consistency over a run of five tough games, something we have done well so far,” said Townsend, who has changed a winning side by making three alterations to his pack.

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Players to watch:

For Wales: Legend Alun Wyn Jones will want to celebrate his milestone with an impressive performance. And as per usual the captain will be a formidable figure in the set-up. In the backline scrumhalf Rhys Webb is set to make his first start in a Wales jersey in almost two and half years at Principality Stadium. The 31-year-old’s controlled cameo against England was impressive and the timing is perfect with Wales in need of a positive injection.

For Scotland: Captain Stuart Hogg has gradually returned to his old form and will want to build on that impressive display he produced last weekend against France. In the pack new faces Stuart McInally, No.8 Magnus Bradbury and lock Sam Skinner will have to on top of their game as Scotland seek to secure their third win in a row.

Head to head: The battle at fullback has the potential to be enticing, Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny goes up against Scotland’s Stuart Hogg. The two have very contrasting attacking style, Halfpenny largely depends on his boot while Hogg prefers to run the ball. Set-pieces will be a vital element in terms of dominance upfront, therefore, the battle between WillGriff John, Ken Owens and Wyn Jones of Wales against Zander Fagerson, Stuart McInally and Rory Sutherland of Scotland will be a significant contest.

Recent results:

Six Nations predictions: Wales v Scotland

Prediction:

Six Nations predictions: Wales v Scotland

Teams:

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Cory Hill, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Johnny McNicholl.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 George Horne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Kyle Steyn.

Date: Saturday, March 14
Venue: Principality Stadium Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT)
Expected weather: It will cloudy with a high of 10°C and a low of 7°C.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Sources: AFP & @rugby365com 

PV: 841


Six Nations Predictions: Wales V Scotland | Rugby365