International Rugby: Wales vs Scotland Preview

A rugby player fends off a tackle

Scotland will be looking for revenge when they open their November international series against Wales at Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

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Date: Saturday, November 3
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Taking place outside World Rugby’s designated international window, the sides (made up wholly of home-based players) will contest the ‘Doddie Weir Cup’ as they honour the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions player diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and support his inspiring work to raise funds for MND research.

Scotland last beat Wales in Cardiff in 2002. Since then Wales have won each of the last nine meetings between the sides on home soil, including a 34-7 thrashing in the opening round of this year's Six Nations.

Wales have won six of their eight Test matches played thus far in 2018, suffering away defeats to England and Ireland in the Six Nations. While Wales have met expectations this season, they have not exceeded them and coach Warren Gatland will be looking to get his side going into the Rugby World Cup on a high with a good November series.

Scotland, meanwhile, have produced some brilliant performances in the last few seasons. Who could forget them running the All Blacks close at 22-17 before thrashing the Wallabies 53-24 in last year's November internationals? Or, this year's awe-inspiring 25-13 victory over England at home in the Six Nations?

Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell will be big misses for Gregor Townsend's men, who has otherwise named an experienced team.

“We’ve had a productive two weeks, both in St Andrews and Edinburgh, and the players have worked hard to put our game into place," Townsend said.

”As always we expect a very tough Test match against Wales in Cardiff – a contest that will be physically and technically demanding in a noisy arena. It’s a challenge we look forward to facing.”

Whereas Scotland have gone with their tried and trusted combinations for the most part, Wales have been forced in to experimenting for this clash due to the fact that Gatland is without a number of English-based players at his disposal.

It provides an ideal opportunity for Gatland to introduce a few fresh faces into the fold in the high-intensity atmosphere of a Test match situation played in front of what should be a capacity crowd in Cardiff.

Gatland was back in New Zealand for the entire duration of the week, mourning the death of his father and wasn't even present at the unveiling of the side, with assistant coach Rob Howley doing the honours.

"We are looking forward to kicking off our autumn campaign on Saturday and it was great to welcome Warren back yesterday," said Howley.

"Warren has been in constant dialogue with us over the past week and we have selected a very strong squad for this weekend.

"It is great to reward players on form and we are looking forward to seeing Luke make his debut on the wing. He has come through the Sevens system, he will bring a point of difference to the squad and it's a great opportunity for him. Likewise it will be good to see Jarrod from the bench and hopefully seeing some X-factor from him.

"We have created good strength in depth, especially from the summer and have a nice balance bringing seven Lions back into the team.

"We are very respectful of this Scotland team and are looking forward to what should be a great opening match."

Players to Watch:

For Wales: Watch out for Ospreys man Luke Morgan. The former Sevens star will make his international debut when he lines up on the wing. You've got to be pretty decent if you are keeping Steff Evans out of the team. He has been in scintillating form for his region, with four tries from five appearances and deserves his spot in the starting line-up.

For Scotland: Adam Hastings has been in fine form for Glasgow Warriors. The 22-year-old has thrived with the added responsibility of the number 10 jersey following the departure of Finn Russell to Racing 92. However, Hastings will be winning just his fourth international cap. Can he handle the heat of the international arena when the pressure is really on?

Head-to-head: Huw Jones was the most impressive Scotland player in their November internationals last year, scoring tries in all three Tests as the Scots almost overcame New Zealand before walloping the Wallabies. Jones comes up against a quality player in Jonathan Davies so will have his work cut out. Davies also enjoyed a stellar 2017, winning the Player of the Series in the drawn British and Irish Lions-New Zealand series. Both possess that X-factor capable of changing the game in an instant.

Previous results:

  • 2018: Wales won 34-7 in Cardiff
  • 2017: Scotland won 29-13 in Edinburgh
  • 2016: Wales won 27-23 in Cardiff
  • 2015: Wales won 26-23 in Edinburgh
  • 2014: Wales won 51-3 in Cardiff
  • 2013: Wales won 28-18 in Edinburgh
  • 2012: Wales won 27-13 in Cardiff
  • 2011: Wales won 24-6 in Edinburgh

Verdict: Scotland
There shouldn't be too much to choose between the sides. Scotland should sneak a win. 

The teams:

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Steff Evans

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (c), 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 George Horne, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Darcy Graham

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