Match Preview


Finn Russell against Wales 2023
Scotland travel to Wales bidding for their first win in Cardiff since 2002 in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations Round 1 finale.

Principality Stadium is the last frontier for Gregor Townsend’s side, with their previous away victory over Saturday’s opponents coming in Llanelli back in 2020.

Scotland have asked for the roof to be kept open in their quest to end the hoodoo but that will do little to quell a sell-out home crowd, eager to cheer on a youthful side which includes debutant full-back Cameron Winnett.

The fresh feel to Warren Gatland’s team is typified by captain Dafydd Jenkins who becomes Wales’ youngest in 56 years on just his 13th cap.

Scotland have swapped skippers too with the mercurial Finn Russell in charge for the first time in a Guinness Men’s Six Nations fixture, having first taken the reins during the home World Cup warm-up fixture against France.

Scotland won last year’s fixture 35-7 at Scottish Gas Murrayfield thanks to a virtuoso performance from Russell. That means Scotland are the holders of the Doddie Weir Cup, and if they triumph this weekend, will retain the trophy, named after the late Scotland lock, for the first time.

Team news

The headline team news comes from Scotland with in-form full-back Blair Kinghorn and co-captain Rory Darge both sidelined.

Toulouse star Kinghorn has been ruled out with a knee injury for the first two matches of the Championship, while flanker Darge is expected to return for next week’s crunch home fixture against France.

Darge’s absence leaves Luke Crosbie to come into the back row alongside former skipper Jamie Ritchie, who is named vice-captain, and Matt Fagerson, who is preferred to Jack Dempsey.

Kyle Rowe makes his first Scotland start in place of the injured Kinghorn in an otherwise settled back line that sees Huw Jones given the nod ahead of Cameron Redpath.

The replacements bench includes uncapped props Elliot Millar-Mills and Alec Hepburn, who played six times for England in 2018.

Wales have their own injury concerns with George North, Will Rowlands and World Cup co-captains Dewi Lake and Jac Morgan among their absentees.

Cardiff star Winnett starts and club teammate Alex Mann could also make his maiden appearance as a replacement flanker.

Sam Costelow starts following Dan Biggar's international retirement, with replacement fly-half Ioan Lloyd set to win his third cap more than three years on from his first two. 

At the other end of the spectrum, scrum-half Gareth Davies will win his 75th cap after being picked to start ahead of Tomos Williams.

What they said

Wales head coach Warren Gatland: "We were disappointed with last year up in Scotland. We’ve got a responsibility to go and deliver a performance. I’m really excited about this group, building with some youngsters. You can’t coach experience. Those young players get out there and learn what it’s like to play in front of 75,000 players. I get excited for the young players. I like to think that people see us preparing for the Six Nations, but also the next few years with a group of players."

Scotland captain Finn Russell: "For the last four, five or six years we've had high expectations going into Six Nations and World Cups, and never won anything. We've had some big results - beaten England away and at home, beaten France away. A few big results which for Scotland is brilliant. These one-off games are great to win but as a group we're desperate to win a trophy."

Key battle

Wales’ new-look front row is sure to be given a fierce examination by their experienced Scottish counterparts, so the battle at scrum time will be key.

Zander Fagerson is arguably one of the most underrated tightheads in the game and meets a new challenger this weekend in the form of Guinness Men's Six Nations debutant Corey Domachowski.

Cardiff loosehead Domachowski enjoyed a solid World Cup as a replacement but this is a big step up and he may be required to deliver a longer shift than normal. 

With Nicky Smith injured and Gareth Thomas also sidelined, one-cap Kemsley Mathias takes the 17 shirt.

Stat attack

  • Wales have won 13 of their last 16 Guinness Men's Six Nations matches against Scotland, however they did lose their most recent such clash in 2023. They’ve not lost consecutive fixtures since 2002-03.

  • Scotland have only won two of 12 away games against Wales in the Guinness Men's Six Nations, those victories coming in 2002 and 2020 by margins of just five and four points respectively.

  • Dafydd Jenkins will become the youngest player to captain any team in the Guinness Men's Six Nations; he will be 21 years and 60 days old when he leads his nation out against Scotland, over two years younger than Sam Warburton who previously held the record (23y 123d v Ireland in 2012).

  • Duhan van der Merwe beat 35 defenders in the Guinness Men's Six Nations last year, more than any other player; in fact it was the most by any player in an edition of the Championship.

  • Wales have lost their last four Guinness Men’s Six Nations home games, their worst ever streak in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations.

Fantasy Watch

Finn Russell was always going to be a popular pick but given the turnover in the fly-half position among Scotland’s rivals, he is in higher demand than usual.

At 19 stars, only France’s Damian Penaud and Ireland’s James Lowe come dearer but with those two set to go head-to-head in Marseille, that makes Russell a very attractive option.

For a value pick, try Russell’s opposite number Sam Costelow (10 stars) who at nearly half the price is the cheapest starting stand-off this weekend.

Wales: 15. Cameron Winnett, 14. Josh Adams, 13. Owen Watkin, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Rio Dyer, 10. Sam Costelow, 9. Gareth Davies; 1. Corey Domachowski, 2. Ryan Elias, 3. Leon Brown, 4. Dafydd Jenkins (c), 5. Adam Beard, 6. James Botham, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Kemsley Mathias, 18. Keiron Assiratti, 19. Teddy Williams, 20. Alex Mann, 21. Tomos Williams, 22. Ioan Lloyd, 23. Mason Grady

Scotland: 15. Kyle Rowe, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell (c), 9. Ben White; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Scott Cummings, 6. Luke Crosbie, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Matt Fagerson

Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Alec Hepburn, 18. Elliot Millar-Mills, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Jack Dempsey, 21. George Horne, 22. Ben Healy, 23. Cameron Redpath