Scotland v Wales: Gatland's record breakers to stay on course for Grand Slam
With Wales on course for the Six Nations title and Grand Slam, Simon Mail previews their latest match at Murrayfield against Scotland...
"Warren Gatland has a perfect record against Scotland and he will be determined to maintain this in his final year in charge. Wales have won all ten matches against this weekend's opponents under him."
Scotland v Wales
Live on BBC One
Gatland leads Wales to record run
Wales are on course to win the Six Nations title and Grand Slam after winning their opening three games in the competition. Warren Gatland's side clinched a record 12th consecutive Test victory after fighting back to defeat England 21-13 in Cardiff. Trailing 10-3 at half-time, tries from Cory Hill and Josh Adams sparked wild celebrations at the Principality Stadium.
Although Wales have yet to produce an 80 minute performance in the competition, the team have found a way to win. Against France they were in deep trouble before the hosts capitulated in the second half in Paris.
Their victory in Italy, albeit with a much-changed side, was patchy at best and England appeared to be in control during the first half. But Wales rallied superbly in the second half and the introduction of replacement fly-half Dan Biggar was instrumental in their victory.
Gatland has resisted the temptation to bring Biggar in from the start against Scotland with fly-half Gareth Anscombe keeping his place in the side. There is no room for Leigh Halfpenny with the full-back not selected despited returning from concussion for the Scarlets. The only change to the starting team is lock Adam Beard comes in for the injured Hill.
Townsend must lift Scotland after defeats
Scotland came into the tournament with optimism but two defeats from their first three games have provided a reality check for Gregor Townsend's side. An opening victory over Italy was followed by a defeat at home to Ireland.
Injuries have decimated the squad this season and a depleted side were beaten 27-10 in France. There were few positives to take from their performance in Paris.
Townsend has dropped captain Greig Laidlaw for this weekend with Stuart McInally taking over responsibility for the match. Scrun-half Ali Price is preferred to Laidlaw and he forms a half-back partnership with the returning Finn Russell after the fly-half's recovery from concussion. Winger Darcy Graham makes his first start in place of the injured Sean Maitland.
Visitors backed to maintain Grand Slam bid
Gatland has a perfect record against Scotland and he will be determined to maintain this in his final year in charge. Wales have won all ten matches against this weekend's opponents under him. He has claimed nine victories in the Six Nations and one friendly win last year. Wales have won 11 of the last 12 clashes with their only loss coming two years ago when Rob Howley was in charge due to Gatland coaching the British & Irish Lions.
A match against Scotland at Murrayfield is never easy but Wales deserve to be favourites and have the confidence and winning mentality to stay on course for the Grand Slam. The hosts were punished for a lack of ruthlessness against Ireland and their errors, both in attack and defence, have proved costly in their two defeats.
Wales are fancied to make it 13 wins in a row but it would be a surprise if they eased to victory. Three of their last four wins over Scotland have been by no more than 12 points and another tight match is expected. Wales have been grinding out victories recently, rather than destroying teams, with their last four wins all by less than 12 points. Expect Scotland to push them hard but Wales' nous and clinical finishing can make the difference.
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P/L 2018-19 season