Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2014 20:22 | By Agence France-Presse

Wales ring rugby team changes for Scotland

Wales coach Warren Gatland named six changes Thursday in his side to play Scotland on Saturday as the champions look to finish the Six Nations with a flourish.


Wales ring rugby team changes for Scotland

Wales head coach Warren Gatland looks on ahead of the Six Nations International rugby Union match between England and Wales at Twickenham, West London on March 9, 2014 - by Glyn Kirk

Wales' 29-18 loss to England at Twickenham on Sunday ended their hopes of becoming the first side to win an unprecedented third successive Six Nations title.

Gatland responded by making changes across the team, although several are injury-enforced.

Three come in the backs with Liam Williams replacing Leigh Halfpenny following the star full-back's season-ending shoulder injury at Twickenham, while Mike Phillips comes in for scrum-half Rhys Webb, who also suffered a knock against England.

But at fly-half Dan Biggar makes his first start of the championship following Rhys Priestland's lacklustre display against England, with James Hook again left kicking his heels on the bench.

Up front, prop Gethin Jenkins will become Wales' most-capped player when he makes his 105th appearance, one more than former fly-half Stephen Jones, although the veteran forward will hope to avoid a third successive yellow card after being sin-binned at Twickenham for failing to scrummage straight.

Jenkins is a member of a changed front row where Scarlets duo Rhodri Jones and hooker Ken Owens make their first starts of the Championship.

Luke Charteris returns from injury to partner Alun Wyn Jones in the second row with the rest of the pack unchanged.

Ospreys front row forwards Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones drop to the bench as does Priestland.

Defeats this season by Ireland and England, both vying for the title on Saturday, have led to accusations Wales are becoming too predictable a a side when faced with major opposition.

Nevertheless they will still be favourites to beat a Scotland team seeking a first win in Cardiff since 2002 and whose lone success this tournament was a last-gasp win over Italy, although they were unluckly to lose 19-17 to France at Murrayfield last weekend.

"Saturday is an opportunity for us to put in a performance we know we can and finish the Six Nations on a high," said Gatland. 

"We've made a number of changes and freshened things up with a just a six day turnaround between matches," the New Zealander added. 

"Liam (Williams) and Mike (Phillips) come in with Leigh (Halfpenny) and Rhys (Webb) ruled out and Dan Biggar gets his opportunity at fly-half.

"In the front-row Ken Owens and Rhodri Jones get their chance to start after impressing off the bench and it's good to have Luke (Charteris) back from injury in the second-row.

Turning to Wales' opponents, Gatland said: "Scotland will come looking to play some rugby and had a morale boosting win against Italy and were unlucky to lose against France in recent weeks. 

"We will be looking for a more accurate execution this week to finish with a win at home in Cardiff."

Saturday's match will be former Wales coach Scott Johnson's last in charge of Scotland, with the Australian handing over to New Zealander Vern Cotter at the end of the season to concentrate solely on his role as director of rugby at the Scottish Rugby Union.

Wales team to play Scotland in a Six Nations international at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday (1445GMT kick-off):

Wales (15-1)

Liam Williams; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (capt), Dan Lydiate; Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris; Rhodri Jones, Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins

Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Paul James, Adam Jones, Jake Ball, Justin Tipuric, Rhodri Williams, Rhys Priestland, James Hook

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