Preview Six Nations – Wales vs Scotland

 

Scotland travels to Wales bidding for their first win in Cardiff since 2002 in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations Round 1 finale.

Principality Stadium is the last frontier for Gregor Townsend’s side, with their previous away victory over Saturday’s opponents coming in Llanelli back in 2020.

Scotland has asked for the roof to be kept open in their quest to end the hoodoo but that will do little to quell a sell-out home crowd, eager to cheer on a youthful side which includes debutant full-back Cameron Winnett.

The fresh feel to Warren Gatland’s team is typified by captain Dafydd Jenkins who becomes Wales’ youngest in 56 years on just his 13th cap.

Scotland have swapped skippers too with the mercurial Finn Russell in charge for the first time in a Guinness Men’s Six Nations fixture, having first taken the reins during the home World Cup warm-up fixture against France.

Scotland won last year’s fixture 35-7 at Scottish Gas Murrayfield thanks to a virtuoso performance from Russell. That means Scotland are the holders of the Doddie Weir Cup, and if they triumph this weekend, will retain the trophy, named after the late Scotland lock, for the first time.

The headline team news comes from Scotland with in-form full-back Blair Kinghorn and co-captain Rory Darge both sidelined.

Toulouse star Kinghorn has been ruled out with a knee injury for the first two matches of the Championship, while flanker Darge is expected to return for next week’s crunch home fixture against France.

Darge’s absence leaves Luke Crosbie to come into the back row alongside former skipper Jamie Ritchie, who is named vice-captain, and Matt Fagerson, who is preferred to Jack Dempsey.

Kyle Rowe makes his first Scotland start in place of the injured Kinghorn in an otherwise settled back line that sees Huw Jones given the nod ahead of Cameron Redpath.

The replacement bench includes uncapped props Elliot Millar-Mills and Alec Hepburn, who played six times for England in 2018.

Scotland captain Finn Russell: "For the last four, five or six years we've had high expectations going into Six Nations and World Cups, and never won anything. We've had some big results - beaten England away and at home, beaten France away. A few big results which for Scotland is brilliant. These one-off games are great to win but as a group, we're desperate to win a trophy."

Wales have their own injury concerns with George North, Will Rowlands and World Cup co-captains Dewi Lake and Jac Morgan among their absentees.

Cardiff star Winnett starts and club teammate Alex Mann could also make his maiden appearance as a replacement flanker.

Sam Costelow starts following Dan Biggar's international retirement, with replacement fly-half Ioan Lloyd set to win his third cap more than three years on from his first two.

At the other end of the spectrum, scrum-half Gareth Davies will win his 75th cap after being picked to start ahead of Tomos Williams.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland: "We were disappointed with last year up in Scotland. We’ve got a responsibility to go and deliver a performance. I’m really excited about this group, building with some youngsters. You can’t coach experience. Those young players get out there and learn what it’s like to play in front of 75,000 players. I get excited for the young players. I like to think that people see us preparing for the Six Nations, but also the next few years with a group of players."

Teams:

Wales: 15. Cameron Winnett, 14. Josh Adams, 13. Owen Watkin, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Rio Dyer, 10. Sam Costelow, 9. Gareth Davies; 1. Corey Domachowski, 2. Ryan Elias, 3. Leon Brown, 4. Dafydd Jenkins (c), 5. Adam Beard, 6. James Botham, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Aaron Wainwright. Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Kemsley Mathias, 18. Keiron Assiratti, 19. Teddy Williams, 20. Alex Mann, 21. Tomos Williams, 22. Ioan Lloyd, 23. Mason Grady.

Scotland: 15. Kyle Rowe, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell (c), 9. Ben White; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Scott Cummings, 6. Luke Crosbie, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Matt Fagerson. Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Alec Hepburn, 18. Elliot Millar-Mills, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Jack Dempsey, 21. George Horne, 22. Ben Healy, 23. Cameron Redpath.