Six Nations 2014: Wales make six changes for Scotland clash
Six Nations 2014: Warren Gatland drops Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard to the bench among his six changes
Warren Gatland has made six changes to his starting XV to face Scotland at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
After a disappointing 29-18 defeat by England at Twickenham last time out, the Wales head coach has rung the changes with Ospreys and British and Irish Lions front-row duo Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard dropping to the bench.
In their place for their first starts of the championship are Scarlets duo Rhodri Jones at tighthead and Ken Owens at hooker alongside Gethin Jenkins, becoming Wales’s most-capped player in his 105th appearance despite being yellow carded in Wales’ last two matches for infringements at the scrum.
Perpignan’s Luke Charteris returns from a neck injury which ruled him out against England to partner Alun Wyn Jones in the engine room.
We will be looking for a more accurate execution this week to finish with a win at home in Cardiff
Jake Ball, who deputised for Charteris in the second row against England and for Jones against France, is unlucky to miss out after two impressive displays.
Gatland has resisted the temptation to make changes in the back row, so captain Sam Warburton continues on the openside with Dan Lydiate at blindside and Taulupe Faletau at number 8, meaning Justin Tipuric will again start on the bench.
With Leigh Halfpenny out with a dislocated shoulder, Scarlets full-back Liam Williams takes his place as one of three changes in the backline with Dan Biggar and Mike Phillips replacing Rhys Priestland and Rhys Webb at outside-half and scrum-half.
Webb left the field at Twickenham after 52 minutes and also misses out this week with Scarlets scrum-half Rhodri Williams on the bench, while Priestland keeps his place in the match-day 23 despite an underwhelming championship to date.
Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts maintain their partnership in the midfield, with Alex Cuthbert and George North retained on the wings despite disappointing performances against England.
Perpignan utility back James Hook is again overlooked for a starting place despite a lack of creativity from Wales’ backline in their losses to Ireland and Wales, but could feature from the bench as cover at centre and full-back.
“Saturday is an opportunity for us to put in a performance – we know we can and we want to finish the Six Nations on a high,” Gatland said
“We’ve made a number of changes and freshened things up with just a six-day turnaround between matches.”
Scotland have opted to have the roof closed as they look to win their first match at the Millennium Stadium since 2002 and end their disappointing campaign on a positive note in Scott Johnson’s final match in charge.
“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,” Gatland added.
“We will be looking for a more accurate execution this week to finish with a win at home in Cardiff.”
Scotland head coach Scott Johnson also has injury worries with his backline and is expected to confirm his backs today before the squad fly to Cardiff.
Wales: Liam Williams (Scarlets), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton ( Cardiff Blues, captain), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), James Hook (Perpignan).