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Six Nations: Warren Gatland rings changes for Wales trip to Scotland

Head coach Warren Gatland has dropped three of his most experienced players from the Wales starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.

A 34-10 opening defeat at home to Ireland has seen Gatland opt to make major alterations to his pack, with Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau missing from the starting line-up.

Jones and Tipuric are both omitted from the matchday squad entirely, while Faletau has been named amongst the replacements for Saturday afternoon’s showdown.

Wales looking to build for the future

Former captain Jones has been a key figure for Gatland in the past, with the coach also naming him as skipper for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

There were concerns that a neck injury would see the lock miss the clash at Murrayfield, but he was passed fit earlier this week. Gatland though has decided that the 37-year-old will play no part on Saturday.

New faces will be part of the Wales pack, with Exeter Chiefs duo Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza set to make their international debuts.

Meanwhile, flanker Tommy Reffell is also named in the starting XV and the Leicester Tigers ace can be backed at 13/2 to score a try at anytime on Saturday.

All three of the called-up players are under the age of 24, a clear sign that Gatland is looking to remodel a Wales squad that finished fifth in the Six Nations last year.

Prop Gareth Thomas, 29, is another player to be dropped following the loss to Ireland in Cardiff last weekend. Meanwhile, Ospreys’ Tomas Francis misses out due to a calf injury, with Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis starting in the front row alongside skipper Ken Owens.

Gatland stated: "I was delighted with the players after we named the team. Obviously there were some changes but the rest of the boys were absolutely brilliant in terms of congratulating people. To me, that was a real positive in the squad."

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Gatland gives backs another chance to shine

Despite scoring just one try against the Irish in their opening game, Wales have stuck with the same backline for the trip to Scotland.

There was a major boost earlier in the week for Gatland, when winger George North was passed fit despite picking up a knock in the opening game of the competition.

Liam Williams was the try scorer against Ireland and the full-back has two tries to his name at Murrayfield - in 2017 and 2021 - and Wales can be backed at 5/4 to score the first try in this meeting.

Gatland admits that his team need to be clinical from an attacking perspective and that Wales will “need to start better” on Saturday.

Wales have lost six of their last eight matches and have scored 30+ points in only one of those games, with the visitors available to back at 11/10 with a +6 start on the handicap.

Wales team: L Williams; Adams, North, Hawkins, Dyer; Biggar, T Williams; W Jones, Owens (captain), Lewis, Jenkins, Beard, Tshiunza, Reffell, Morgan.
Replacements: Baldwin, Carre, Brown, Davies, Faletau, Webb, Patchell, Cuthbert.

Scotland v Wales - Six Nations head-to-head stats

This is the 129th meeting between the two sides and the 65th clash in Scotland, with the first-ever match taking place in January 1883.

Overall, Wales hold the upper hand with 75 wins to Scotland’s 50, but it’s the hosts that have won more of the games north of the border, with 33 victories to 27.

The visitors are looking for a third consecutive Six Nations win over the Scots, following a 24-25 victory at Murrayfield in 2021 and a 20-17 success in Cardiff last year.

A Dan Biggar drop goal proved decisive and a 1-10-point winning margin for Wales can be backed at 3/1 this time around.

Since the turn of the Millennium, when the Five Nations changed to the Six Nations, Wales have certainly had the better of the encounters.

There have been 23 matches since 2000, with 17 wins for Wales, 5 victories for Scotland and one draw - which finished 28-28 at Murrayfield in 2001.

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