Dan Biggar recovers as Wales named unchanged XV for Scotland clash

Duncan Taylor replaces Matt Scott in Scotland’s sole change from defeat to England

Dan Biggar (centre) talks to Jamie Heaslip and   Jonathan Davies after last Sunday’s Six Nations game in Dublin. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Dan Biggar (centre) talks to Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Davies after last Sunday’s Six Nations game in Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Outhalf Dan Biggar will feature in an unchanged Wales team for Saturday’s Six Nations clash against Scotland at the retitled Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Biggar limped off midway through the first half of last weekend’s 16-16 draw with Ireland in Dublin after suffering a sprained ankle, and was replaced by Rhys Priestland.

But Biggar has retained his place, with one change on the bench seeing Cardiff Blues back Gareth Anscombe, who was ruled out of the Ireland game due to a tight hamstring, replacing Alex Cuthbert.

Biggar was arguably Wales’ star performer during the World Cup earlier this season and his return to fitness is a major boost for head coach Warren Gatland.

Elsewhere, Gatland has again selected skipper Sam Warburton at blindside flanker, with Justin Tipuric wearing the number seven shirt, while Scarlets props Rob Evans and Samson Lee have another opportunity to impress following a strong scrummaging performance against Ireland.

Centre Jonathan Davies wins his 50th cap and lines up alongside midfield partner Jamie Roberts for the 41st time in Tests, with Anscombe offering versatile back division cover off the bench.

“It’s great to be able to name an unchanged side, with Dan coming through, fit and ready to play,” Gatland said.

“It is a reward for some players who put in a great shift in Dublin, while we will be asking a little more of some of the players as well.

“It’s great to see Jonathan reach his 50th cap and continue his impressive international partnership with Jamie in the midfield.

“We were impressed with the impact from the bench last week, and that will be just as vital this weekend in what is going to be a tough battle.”

Biggar trained with the Wales squad on Thursday, and Gatland added: “He had to get through today’s training.

“He has made a miraculous recovery. The boys were joking and calling him Lazarus and stuff!

“He got through training today and looked sharp. We feared the worst after the game.

“I spoke to the medics, who thought that the injury was a three to five-week injury, but the scan came back clear and he has worked really hard in terms of his recovery.”

Wales have not lost to Scotland since Gatland took charge in 2008, winning eight successive Tests, while the Scots last triumphed in Cardiff 14 years ago.

Although Wales saw their Grand Slam and Triple Crown hopes disappear with the draw in Dublin, they still appear well placed for a major title push.

Three of their four remaining games are at home – they also face England at Twickenham on March 12th – with Scotland being followed at the Principality Stadium by France and Italy.

Scotland have made just one change to their starting XV from the Calcutta Cup defeat to England at Murrayfield after Edinburgh centre Matt Scott is ruled out with injury so Saracens’ Duncan Taylor takes his slot in the midfield.

Saturday’s match will be Taylor’s fifth start in 14 caps for Scotland and his first since the 2014 summer tour win over the United States, following a couple of injury-hit seasons.

Despite missing out on international opportunities, Taylor – who partners Mark Bennett in the centre – has excelled for his club side, building on their English Premiership title success last season with stirring performances in the current campaign.

The only other change to the matchday 23 is the inclusion of veteran Glasgow wing Sean Lamont, who takes Taylor’s slot on the bench.

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter said: “This group have worked exceptionally hard this week to improve their accuracy under pressure after a frustrating opening game against England.

“We created opportunities that could have been capitalised upon, and converted into points.

“As a team we know we can perform better and believe we’re capable of making improvements all over the park.

“We know that Wales in Cardiff will not be easy, but our focus is on improving our attacking and defensive mindset.”

WALES (v Scotland): Liam Williams (Scarlets); G North (Northampton), J Davies (Clermont Auvergne), J Roberts (Harlequins), T James (Cardiff Blues); D Biggar (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets); R Evans (Scarlets), S Baldwin (Ospreys), S Lee (Scarlets); L Charteris (Racing 92), A-W Jones (Ospreys); S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), T Francis (Exeter), B Davies (Wasps), D Lydiate (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Priestland (Bath), G Anscombe (Cardiff Blues).

SCOTLAND: S Hogg (Glasgow); S Maitland (London Irish), M Bennett (Glasgow), D Taylor (Saracens), T Seymour (Glasgow); F Russell (Glasgow), G Laidlaw (Gloucester, capt); A Dickinson (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), WP Nel (Edinburgh); R Gray (Toulouse), J Gray (Glasgow); J Barclay (Scarlets), J Hardie (Edinburgh), D Denton (Bath).

Replacements: S McInally (Edinburgh), G Reid (Glasgow), Z Fagerson (Glasgow), T Swinson (Glasgow), B Cowan (London Irish), S Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh), D Weir (Glasgow), S Lamont (Glasgow).

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.