Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2014 09:20 | By Agence France-Presse

Gatland tells Wales to finish with a flourish

Wales coach Warren Gatland insists there is a "lot at stake" for both his side and opponents Scotland even though they risk being the unappetising filling in Saturday's final day Six Nations 'sandwich'.


Gatland tells Wales to finish with a flourish

Wales prop Gethin Jenkins leaves the pitch after receiving a yellow card during the Six Nations match against England at Twickenham, London on March 9, 2014 - by Ben Stansall

Neither of the Celtic nations can win the title, which will be decided by a combination of the results in the early kick-off in Rome between Italy and England and the concluding fixture of the 23014 Championship in Paris where France face leaders Ireland.

In between comes the Wales-Scotland clash at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium with the Welsh licking their wounds after a 29-18 loss away to England last time out ended their hopes of an unprecedented third successive outright Six Nations Championship title.

Scotland, who've won just once this Championship and that a last-gasp 21-20 victory away to bottom of the table Italy, have lost their last six matches against the Welsh and haven't won in Cardiff for 12 years.

Nevertheless, last Sunday they came agonisingly close to beating title contenders France before going down 19-17 at Murrayfield.

And an admiring Gatland said: "They are gaining a bit of confidence after being under the pump and winning against Italy, and doing reasonably well against France. 

"They will have been disappointed at not winning that game. They have asked for the (Millennium) roof to be shut, which is good, and shows they are coming with an attitude to play rugby.

"There is a lot at stake for both teams, and we want to finish the campaign on a high and go into the summer with some confidence."

Gatland has made six changes to the starting side that lost at Twickenham, with Liam Williams and Mike Phillips replacing the injured duo of full-back Leigh Halfpenny, out for four months with a shoulder problem, and scrum-half Rhys Webb (ankle) respectively.

Meanwhile fly-half Dan Biggar starts in place of Rhys Priestland, who kicked away far too much possession against England, while fit-again lock Luke Charteris comes in for Jake Ball.

"We have identified things we need to improve," Gatland said.

"Some of our kicking strategy was not executed well enough on Sunday, and in terms of counter-attacking more, we wanted to play through phases but there were too many turnovers and we did not keep the ball for long enough periods," the coach of last year's victorious British and Irish Lions in Australia added.

- 'Competitor and a warrior' -

There is also a new-look front row with Ken Owens replacing hooker Richard Hibbard and Rhodri Jones in for prop Adam Jones.

But Gatland has retained prop Gethin Jenkins, set to surpass retired fly-half Stephen Jones' Welsh appearance record by winning his 105th cap.

Jenkins has been yellow-carded in both his last two Tests for scrummaging offences but Gatland said: "We've got to stick with him and give him the faith. We've worked hard on getting the scrummaging right and improving that.

"As a competitor and a warrior, you don't get anyone tougher than Gethin. It is a great milestone for him in terms of him being the leading Welsh cap player of all-time."

For Scotland, Edinburgh wing Dougie Fife is set to make his Test debut with the 23-year-old drafted in after Tommy Seymour (ankle) was ruled out following his try-scoring heroics against France.

Max Evans replaces veteran flyer Sean Lamont (knee) on the other wing while Ryan Wilson comes in for back row Johnnie Beattie, who suffered an ankle injury against the French. 

Saturday's match will be former Wales coach Scott Johnson's final Test in charge of Scotland before the Australian hands over to New Zealander Vern Cotter to concentrate solely on his role as director of rugby at the Scottish Rugby Union.

Johnson, who has overseen just five wins from 15 Tests in charge of the Scots, said: "It's not about me. I did it for what I feel is the right fit for Scotland and I'll take up a different role and I'll enjoy that -- but I'm really proud to say I've been a part of it."

He added: "I think the last couple of weeks have been encouraging. I think there are glimpses here. Last weekend against France we showed great resolve."

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn