We kick off the last round of the Six Nations in Llanelli
Six Nations Wales v Scotland preview
The last weekend of the 2020 Six Nations is upon us… Finally. And the big weekend kicks off with Wales hosting Scotland.
Back in March this one very nearly happened. At the time it was hoped they could squeeze in one last Six Nations game, but late on it was thought best to postpone.
So now it’s really on! Albeit at a fanless Parc y Scarlets, while the Principality Stadium is being used as the Dragon’s Heart hospital.
It’s a big one for Alun Wyn Jones as he is set to surpass All Blacks hero Richie McCaw’s Test record for the men’s game, playing in his 149th International (this record also including nine Tests for the Lions).
Could the Scots spoil the party? They have not won in Wales since 2002 and a lot of time has passed since their last match in this very competition, beating France 28-17 in Paris all those months ago. But before then their defence – coached by Welshman Steve Tandy – was the stingiest in the competition.
The difference this time, though, is that creator Finn Russell is back in the Scottish fold and the skipper Stuart Hogg (and his pal Jonny Gray) comes in with not one but two winners medals from recent triumphs in the Champions Cup and Premiership, with Exeter Chiefs.
And sure, Scotland never looked in trouble against Georgia in their last outing while Wales have now lost four Tests on the spin. However, this is a fixture that has tripped up so many Scots in the past.
It won’t be the rousing spectacle we are used to seeing on a Six Nations day in Wales, but the hosts need tp catch an upswing to end the tournament on a high, while Scotland could end up with three tournament wins in a row.
What’s the big team news?
After defeat in the Paris warm-up Test last weekend, Wales boss Wayne Pivac has made six changes.
Cardiff Blues back-rower Shane Lewis-Hughes gets his debut, while there are swaps all round. Exeter prop Tomas Francis and Wasps lock Will Rowlands are back in Test action following the Premiership final last week. Gareth Davies is at nine with Rhys Webb out, and Owen Watkin comes in for Nick Tompkins in the centre – with the latter dropping to the bench.
Liam Williams also returns coming in for George North on the wing. There is no spot in the 23 for North.
As for Scotland, the big three of Hogg, Gray and Russell come back. Which means Duhan van der Merwe, Ben Toolis and Adam Hastings all drop to the bench, with Blair Kinghorn shifting to the wing.
Scarlet’s back-rower Blade Thomson will be in familiar surroundings too. He comes in as a replacement for the injured Matt Fagerson at No 8 for the match in Llanelli.
What are the odds?
Wales are favourites with the bookies for this one, with Wayne Pivac’s side 21-50 on and Scotland at 7-4 with 888.
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What have the coaches said?
Wayne Pivac said of Jones’s Test achievement: “It’s a fantastic day for Alun Wyn. He is a tremendous leader in this group and leads by example. When he speaks everybody listens. He is always matter-of-fact, to the point and just a tremendous guy to have in our environment.
“We are so pleased he is going to get the record and he has had to wait longer than we anticipated with the summer tour off but to do it in a Six Nations match will be special for him.”
Scotland boss Gregor Townsend said: “It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks.
“Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.”
Any interesting statistics?
- Liam Williams comes in for his 60th start for Wales.
- Scotland have conceded just four tries so far in this championship, having allowed 17 last season.
- Alun Wyn Jones has faced Scotland 12 times, winning ten of those. The two losses came in Edinburgh.
- Scotland have not won three in a row in the Five or Six Nations since 1996 – they beat Ireland, France and Wales.
- When these two last met in the last Six Nations, both sides attempted (and failed) with a drop goal.
- Wales have not been shown a card in the Six Nations for ten straight games.
- Gregor Townsend and current Wales attack coach Stephen Jones, were the two fly-halves last time Scotland triumphed in Wales (2002).
- Stuart Hogg has carried the ball for 377 metres– the most in this year’s Six Nations.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
Wales v Scotland will kick off at 2.15pm on Saturday 31st October.
Coverage starts on BBC One from 1.45pm. You can also watch on S4C, while you can listen on BBC Radio Wales or BBC Radio Scotland.
Irish referee Andrew Brace will be the man in the middle.
What are the line-ups?
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rhys Carré, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Shane Lewis-Hughes, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Sam Parry, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Cory Hill, James Davies, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Patchell, Nick Tompkins.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain); Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Chris Harris, James Lang; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Blade Thomson.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Oli Kebble, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Cornell Du Preez, Scott Steele, Adam Hastings, Duhan Van der Merwe.
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