by Tom Pritchard
THEY say that a team is at their most dangerous when it is wounded and free of any pressure. Wales will be hoping that Scotland are not this team on Saturday.
After a promising 2018 Six Nations campaign which saw Scotland finish third, notching a memorable win against England along the way, they have failed to live up to expectations in the opening three rounds of this Championship.
A convincing win over Italy in the opening round got the Scots off to the perfect start, however, since then, they’ve suffered back-to-back defeats to Ireland and France.
Despite injuries to key players such as Huw Jones, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, Scotland fans would still have expected more, particularly in the game at the Stade de France.
They face Wales at Murrayfield on Saturday, looking for revenge after Warren Gatland’s side dispatched them in last year’s Championship, and got the better of them in the Autumn.
Wales, the only team who can now win the Grand Slam, will be confident travelling up to Edinburgh on the back of a famous win against England.
They will need to be on their guard, however, to avoid slipping up and seeing their dreams of a fourth clean sweep in 14 years dashed before the final game against Ireland.
Gregor Townsend’s side have a proud record at home in recent years, and comfortably saw off Wales the last time the sides met at Murrayfield.
Despite the notable absentees, the Scots still have a number of dangerous players in their ranks.
Russell returns to pull the strings from stand-off, with the sharp and evasive Ali Price coming in to partner him at half-back.
Blair Kinghorn is another threat in the backfield, he starts at full-back and scored a hat-trick when playing as a winger against the Azzurri.
The Welsh squad has not had the ideal preparation heading into Saturday’s game, with much of the media focus being on a potential merger between Scarlets and Ospreys – which is now dead in the water.
Townsend’s men will surely sense an opportunity to take advantage of this, hoping that Wales may not be 100% focused with all that has transpired this week.
The big-match players like Alun-Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Jonathan Davies will need to call upon all of their experience to guide the team through what should be a real test in the Scottish capital.
A win for Wales will see them head into the final game of the tournament against Ireland on the brink of a Grand Slam, as they look to send head coach Gatland off in style in his final Six Nations.
Scotland: 15. Kinghorn, 14. Seymour, 13. Grigg, 12. Horne, 11. Graham, 10. Russell, 9. Price; 1. Dell, 2. McInally, 3. Nel, 4. Gilchrist, 5. 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. Williams, 14. North, 13. Davies, 12. Parkes, 11. Adams, 10. Anscombe, 9. G. Davies; 1. Evans, 2. Owens, 3. Francis, 4. Beard, 5. Jones, 6. Navidi, 7. Tipuric, 8. Moriarty.
Replacements: 16. Dee, 17. Smith, 18. Lewis, 19. Ball, 20. Wainwright, 21. A. Davies, 22. Biggar, 23. Watkin.