Six Nations: Scotland v Wales preview, team news & key stats

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Wales head coach Warren Gatland has never lost against Scotland
2019 Six Nations: Scotland v Wales
Venue: Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 9 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, Connected TVs, online and BBC Sport app from 13:15 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 live; text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has been dropped for the visit of Grand-Slam chasing Wales on Saturday, with hooker Stuart McInally taking the armband.

Glasgow’s Ali Price starts at scrum-half alongside the returning Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell, while Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham makes a first start in place of the injured Sean Maitland.

Wales make just one injury-enforced change to the starting line-up that triumphed against England in Cardiff, with Ospreys second row Adam Beard replacing Cory Hill.

You can watch the match live on BBC One and follow it on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website.

What’s at stake?

The Wales squad have been preparing for the match at Murrayfield against the background of a controversial dispute over the on-off plans to merge the Scarlets and Ospreys regions.

But Warren Gatland’s side will be seeking to extend their record run by winning a 13th successive Test – and move to within one match of clinching their first Grand Slam since 2012.

Scotland are looking to return to winning ways after losing their last two Six Nations matches.

Gatland has won all 10 of the matches he has contested against Scotland in his 12 seasons in charge of the team.

Scotland beat Wales 29-13 in Edinburgh two years ago but that was when Gatland was on a sabbatical as coach of the British and Irish Lions, with Rob Howley in temporary charge.

Line-ups

Scotland: 15-Kinghorn; 14-Seymour, 13-Grigg, 12-P Horne, 11-Graham; 10-Russell, 9-Price; 1-Dell, 2-McInally (capt), 3-Nel, 4-Gilchrist, 5-J Gray, 6-Bradbury, 7-Ritchie, 8-Strauss.

Replacements: 16-Brown, 17-Reid, 18-Berghan, 19-Toolis, 20-Watson, 21-Laidlaw, 22-Hastings, 23-McGuigan.

Wales: 15-L Williams; 14-North, 13-J Davies, 12-Parkes, 11-Adams; 10-Anscombe, 9-G Davies; 1-R Evans, 2-Owens, 3-Francis, 4-Beard, 5-AW Jones (c), 6-Navidi, 7-Tipuric, 8-Moriarty.

Replacements: 16- Dee, 17-Smith, 18-Lewis, 19-Ball, 20-Wainwright, 21-A Davies, 22-Biggar, 23-Watkin.

Commentator’s notes

Andrew Cotter: “What a contrast between these sides. For Wales all around is turmoil, but the Test side is a model of stability with only one change to their line-up.

“For Scotland, the upheaval is on the pitch. Gregor Townsend has made some big decisions, the biggest of which is dropping captain and kicker Greig Laidlaw for Ali Price at scrum-half.

“His partnership with the returning Finn Russell is part of an exciting but inexperienced backline, typified by Darcy Graham coming in for the injured Sean Maitland on the wing.

“Expect Graham and full-back Blair Kinghorn to be severely tested by Wales impressive aerial game.

“With the weather forecast also mixed to say the least, this may be a Test for a simple, more direct game where experience is key.”

View from both camps

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend: “Wales have a very good record against us and are in excellent form.

“It’s a similar challenge to the one we faced last year against England, who had also been on a very good run of results in their preceding games.

“We rose to the challenge that day and found a way to win and I firmly believe we can reach that level of performance once again on Saturday.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland: “It was a fairly straightforward selection. After that performance against England they deserved the opportunity to back it up.

“There is no doubt that their record at Murrayfield has been very impressive, and they are hard to beat there for any team.

“They will be disappointed and hurting from that performance against France in Paris. We are well aware of their threat.

“The maturity in the team, not panicking and having that belief that they can come through and win a game; that’s been massive for this team.

“I don’t see any fear in their eyes or any trepidation.”

Match facts

Head-to-head

  • Scotland’s 29-13 home victory in the 2017 Six Nations is their only win against Wales in 12 games, when Rob Howley was caretaker coach.
  • They have not scored more than two tries in this fixture for 14 years.
  • Scotland have beaten Wales just three times at home in the Six Nations (D1, L5).
  • Wales’ 34-7 win during their last Six Nations meeting in 2018 was their second-biggest margin of victory against Scotland in the championship’s history. Only their 51-3 victory in 2014 was bigger.

Scotland

  • The loss to Ireland was Scotland’s first Six Nations defeat at Murrayfield for three years.
  • Scotland could lose three successive Test matches for the first time since February 2016.
  • Greig Laidlaw is now second on Scotland’s all-time points list (669) after his penalty against France.
  • Scotland have conceded 29 penalties in this tournament, a joint high with Italy.

Wales

  • Wales are on a record run of 12 consecutive Test wins. However, only four of those triumphs have come away from home (and one on neutral ground against South Africa).
  • They have conceded an average of just 13.9 points per match during those 12 victories.
  • Wales have won only three of their last nine away matches in the Six Nations (D1, L5).
  • They have won all eight Tests that Gareth Anscombe has started at fly-half.

Match officials

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

Touch judges: Luke Pearce (England) & Alexandre Ruiz (France)

TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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