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'Desperate' Wales on mission to show public they're better than Dublin flop

By PA
Wayne Pivac /PA

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Wayne Pivac wants to see “an improvement across the board” when Wales face a crunch Guinness Six Nations clash against Scotland on Saturday.

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Wales have not started a Six Nations campaign with successive defeats since 2007, and they must beat Scotland to revive any hope of a successful title defence following last weekend’s tame 29-7 loss in Ireland.

Scotland last won in Cardiff 20 years ago, losing eight Six Nations Tests, a World Cup warm-up game and an autumn international during that time.

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But they will arrive at the Principality Stadium following a stirring Calcutta Cup victory over England last weekend that confirmed serious Six Nations title credentials.

“It is an improvement across the board, really,” Wales head coach Pivac said, after making four changes of personnel, including a Test debut for 22-year-old Ospreys flanker Jac Morgan.

“The players are very critical of themselves. They are very disappointed after the game last week.

“They are desperate to go out there and show we are a much better team than the display we put on last week. Across the board, everybody in the camp was very disappointed.

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“We are at home, we are in front of 75,000 people, and we owe it to ourselves and our public to put on a better display, as simple as that.

“They (Scotland) are a very good side. They have got a number of British and Irish Lions.

“They showed last week (against England) that they fight for every blade of grass, and that is certainly what we have got to be doing on the weekend.

“We have to match that, and then bring some on top of that. It is going to be a very hard-fought game, we know that, and it is a Scotland team coming full of confidence.”

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Morgan replaces Ellis Jenkins and lines up at openside flanker in a reshaped back-row that also sees Ross Moriarty start at number eight instead of Aaron Wainwright, with Taine Basham wearing the number six shirt.

Elsewhere, Morgan’s Ospreys colleague – wing Alex Cuthbert – makes a first Six Nations appearance for five years, being preferred to Johnny McNicholl.

But Cuthbert’s fellow wing Josh Adams, who started at outside centre in Dublin, is sidelined because of a tight calf muscle, so Owen Watkin fills the number 13 position.

Pivac has resisted any temptation to make further changes, while captain Dan Biggar makes his 100th Test match appearance for Wales and the British and Irish Lions, becoming the ninth Welshman to achieve that feat.

And centre Jonathan Davies will join Biggar in reaching 100 Tests for Wales and the Lions if he features off the bench.

Pivac added: “Jac has trained very well. He is a very abrasive sort of player, and Ross we know is very strong in that area.

“It just goes to show. There are performances on the park in a Test match that obviously carry a lot of weight, but it is also what you do in training.

“And Jac has certainly done everything asked of him. We are all looking forward to seeing him out there.

“He has been throwing himself about, and I think you will see a big performance. He certainly won’t be lacking in effort.”

On Adams’ injury, Pivac said: “It is just one of those ones where we don’t think it is worth the risk.

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“If it does worsen, then that would be him gone for the rest of the tournament and quite some time.

“There has been a lot of talk about that selection (Adams at 13). When you break down the performance, we certainly don’t think that him playing at 13 was the cause for certainly the tries they (Ireland) scored. He did a lot of good work at 13.”

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