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01 Feb 2018 by TSZ

2018 Six Nations Championship – Wales vs Scotland Preview

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AT A GLANCE

When? Saturday 3rd February, 14:15

Where? Principality Stadium

What channel is it on? BBC, S4C, FR2, TV3, DMAX, NBC

Where can I stream the match? BBC iPlayer

Are tickets still available? https://www.viagogo.co.uk/Spor...

THE LOWDOWN

WALES

Head Coach: Warren Gatland

Starting line-up: Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets); Josh Adams (Worcester), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Steff Evans (Scarlets); Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Cory Hill (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, capt), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester).

Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Aled Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Owen Watkin (Ospreys).

  • Wales were disappointing in last season’s Six Nations and they will look to improve on their fifth place finish with coach Warren Gatland even claiming that his side are favourites to win the tournament this year – his confidence being based on the performances by Welsh sides in European competition.
  • Gatland has gone for cohesion in this opening match by naming ten Scarlets players in his 15-man starting line-up and six of those are backs so that should give his side a big advantage given they know each other so well.
  • They are without a variety of key players like Jonathan Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Biggar, Rhys Priestland, Liam Williams, Sam Warburton, Rhys Webb, Jake Ball, Dan Lydiate and George North however which tempers expectations for this campaign.

SCOTLAND

Head Coach: Gregor Townsend

Starting line-up: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks), Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Gordon Reid (London Irish), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray, John Barclay (Scarlets, captain), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Cornell du Preez (Edinburgh).

Replacements: Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), Murray McCallum (Edinburgh), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (Saracens).

  • Scotland come into this Six Nations’ opener in Cardiff determined to make a good start and are buoyed by their superb performances in the Autumn internationals when they beat Samoa and Australia, and narrowly lost out to the All Blacks.
  • Newcastle Falcons' Chris Harris makes his debut for Scotland after being named at outside centre while Cornell Du Preez starts at number eight, with Ali Price named ahead of fit-again Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half as Coach Gregor Townsend makes six changes from the side that beat Australia 53-24 in November.
  • Their front row has been decimated by the loss of hookers Ross Ford and Fraser Brown, tight-heads Zander Fagerson and WP Nel, and the loose-head trio of Darryl Marfo, Allan Dell and Al Dickinson but they overcame the weak front row in their Autumn matches and will be hoping to do so here as they aim to win the Six Nations for the first time since 1999.

THE KEY STATS

  • Wales have won each of their last seven home matches against Scotland in the Six Nations.
  • Wales have won 13 of their last 16 home matches in the Six Nations.
  • Wales have scored an average of 3.2 tries per game during their last nine home matches against Scotland in the Six Nations.
  • Wales have scored the first try of the match in 13 of their last 15 home matches in the Six Nations.
  • Wales have been winning at HT in 10 of their last 11 home matches in the Six Nations.
  • Wales have been winning at HT in 10 of their last 14 matches against Scotland in the Six Nations.
  • Wales have scored the first try of the match in eight of their last ten matches against Scotland in the Six Nations.
  • Wales have scored an average of 27 points per game in their last 18 Six Nations matches against Scotland.
  • Wales have only failed to score a try in one of their last 18 matches against Scotland in the Six Nations.
  • Wales have conceded the last try of the match in 10 of their last 15 Six Nations matches.
  • There has been an average of 46 points scored per game in the last 18 Six Nations matches between Wales and Scotland.
  • Scotland have scored an average of one try per match in their last 12 Six Nations matches against Wales.
  • Scotland have scored the last try of the match in seven of their last nine Six Nations matches.
  • Scotland have only failed to score a try in one of their last 15 Six Nations matches.
  • There has been an average of 50.3 points per game in Scotland’s last nine Six Nations matches.
  • Scotland have scored the first try of the match in only two of their last 13 matches against Wales in the Six Nations.
  • Scotland have won just six of their previous 45 away matches in the Six Nations.

THE PREDICTION

Scotland are the underdogs coming into this game but they arguably have the better form coming into this Six Nations opener. Both teams are missing a whole host of players, but team news may also favour Gregor Townsend’s men as Wales are missing some key operators. The one thing that is counting against the Scots is their questionable away form but their results and performances against Australia, New Zealand and Samoa last Autumn should give them enough confidence to overcome that and snatch an unexpected win in a close game in Cardiff.

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