Wales v Scotland: Prediction and Teams
SIX NATIONS, ROUND FIVE: Saturday’s opening Six Nations Round Five fixture between Wales and Scotland may have no bearing on the title but is not without significance.
The Scots are eyeing a third victory this tournament and a first win on Welsh soil since 2002.
They are bolstered by the returning Exeter duo of captain Stuart Hogg and lock Jonny Gray, with gifted flyhalf Finn Russell starting after his international exile ended when he came off the bench during last week’s 48-7 warm-up hammering of Georgia.
Title-holders Wales, by contrast, are trying to avoid a fourth successive defeat under coach Wayne Pivac.
The New Zealander has dropped out-of-form wing George North from his 23 and recalled Liam Williams.
Don’t worry @Scotlandteam, we use drones now.
Sea [ ]
Air [✔︎] https://t.co/A7QrIE68Dz
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) October 30, 2020
Another loss would be a miserable way for Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones to mark his record-breaking 149th Test appearance, the lock topping the tally he shares with retired New Zealand great Richie McCaw.
“It’s a phenomenal achievement,” said Pivac of Jones’s looming landmark.
“He not only leads by example in the games but in training, he’s magnificent in the way he carries himself.”
Saturday’s match is being played behind closed doors in Llanelli after Cardiff’s Principality Stadium was transformed into a field hospital in response to the pandemic.
It also takes place 48 years to the day since Llanelli’s celebrated defeat of New Zealand, an anniversary given added poignancy by the death aged 72 on Thursday of Scarlets, Wales and British Lions great JJ Williams, who played in that 9-3 victory over the All Blacks.
Players to watch
For Wales: Shane Lewis-Hughes will make his Test debut for Wales in the back row, while Will Rowlands will only be making his second Test appearance on Saturday. In the backline, scrumhalf Gareth Davies is a livewire around the rucks, while wing Josh Adams is one of the best finishers in the game.
For Scotland: Flyhalf Finn Russell has all the abilities to control the game, while fullback and captain Stuart Hogg is one of the best in his position in the world. In the pack, No.8 Blade Thomson is an aggressive ball carrier and in the second row Jonny Gray is a colossus in the set-pieces.
Head to head
There is plenty of talent in the backlines to get the mouth watering. Fullbacks Leigh Halfpenny and Stuart Hogg are both exciting ball carriers, but it might be their kicking games from the back that could prove to be the difference on Saturday. There will also be a spotlight on the flyhalf battle between Dan Biggar and Finn Russell, with the latter having a big point to prove again.
@rugby365com: Wales by seven points
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rhys Carre.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Davies, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 James Lang, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Duhan van der Merwe.
Date: Saturday, October 31
Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be windy with a high chance of rain. It will be around 15°C with winds at 40 to 55 km/h.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)
AFP & @rugby365com