Preview: Wales v Scotland

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The 2020 Guinness Six Nations finally comes to a conclusion this weekend with Wales welcoming Scotland to Llanelli for the battle for fourth place at Parc y Scarlets.

It hasn’t been a particularly successful campaign for either side so far with both out of the running for the Championship going into the final round having lost to England and Ireland back in February and March, although none of the losing margins were more than 10 points.

The Scots are currently the side occupying fourth place as despite both teams beating Italy, they have also beaten France with a 28-17 scoreline at Murrayfield after Mohamed Haouas was sent off. That means that a draw or a losing bonus point would be enough to secure them fourth, assuming Wales don’t win with a bonus point.

Recent Six Nations games in Wales suggest the home side could be in with a shout of a bonus point having not scored less than 25 points against Scotland in Cardiff since 2004. You have to go even further back, to 2002, to find the last time the Scots beat us away from home.

There is some form for Gregor Townsend’s men coming into the game though, having beaten Georgia 48-7 at Murrayfield last week, scoring eight tries in the process, as opposed to Wales who went down 38-21 against France in Paris to kick off the Autumn campaign.

Townsend has made four changes to the side who won that game, with Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg available after featuring for Exeter in the Gallagher Premiership Final last week. Finn Russell also starts, while Blade Thomson comes in to the back row.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (c), Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, James Lang, Blair Kinghorn; 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

Wayne Pivac has made six changes to his team that lost at the Stade de France, welcoming back Tomas Francis and Will Rowlands who also played in last week’s Premiership Final, for Exeter and Wasps respectively.

Shane Lewis-Hughes will make his debut on the blindside flank in place of Aaron Wainwright, while Gareth Davies is in for the injured Rhys Webb at scrum-half, Owen Watkin is preferred to Nick Tompkins at inside centre and Liam Williams returns on the wing in place of George North.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Shane Lewis-Hughes, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: Sam Parry, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Cory Hill, James Davies, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Patchell, Nick Tompkins

With conditions set to be wet and windy at Parc y Scarlets it seems the kicking game will be key for Wales, with plenty of footballers in the back line and Liam Williams likely to be selected for his work under the high ball.

The forwards will need to meet Scotland physically, but the defence is the question mark after some suspect performances since Byron Hayward has taken over.

It’s four losses in a row for Wales now, the worst run since 2016, and although this game is technically a dead rubber a win would go some way to restoring confidence to the squad and ensuring the pressure is taken off Wayne Pivac for a while.

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