CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Gregor Townsend doesn't believe Scotland has a problem winning away from Murrayfield.
The coach concedes, however, the Scots do struggle when they are tagged as the favorite.
Fortunately for Scotland then, it isn't favored when it faces Wales on Saturday. Unfortunately, though, the match is in Cardiff, where Scotland hasn't beaten Wales since 2002.
Vern Cotter, and Townsend since mid-2017, have turned Scotland at home into a formidable challenge. On Townsend's watch, wins have been notched against Australia, England, and France. New Zealand was run close a year ago. On the road, the Scots beat Australia and Argentina.
And yet those considerable highs have been blemished by defeats to Fiji in Suva, and the United States in Houston. Plus, England hasn't been topped at Twickenham since 1983, France in Paris since 1999, and Ireland in Dublin since 2010.
"I don't believe there is an away game approach and home game approach in which our performance differs," Townsend says.
"But I do believe there is a performance change when we're favorites.
"If you look at our wins and losses, we've had great wins away from home. We won in Sydney for the first time (in June 2017), we got a record win in Argentina (44-15 last June), and that shows the team can front up in different environments.
"But our poorest performances have been when we are the favorites, away from home especially. It is something in the back of my mind that we must be better."
With this match outside of the international window, Scotland hasn't been able to summon nine players based in England and France, and been limited to Glasgow and Edinburgh players. In the absence of the unavailable Greig Laidlaw and the injured John Barclay, Stuart McInally captains the side for the second time. And with Finn Russell unavailable, Adam Hastings, the son of Scotland great Gavin Hastings, has a second straight start at flyhalf.
They're set to be welcomed under the Principality Stadium roof by a Wales side riding a wave of five successive wins against Italy, France and South Africa, followed by a 2-0 series triumph in Argentina.
If Wales win on Saturday, it will mark its longest winning run since 2012.
"Normally in the autumn we play four southern hemisphere sides, but this time, playing a northern hemisphere team we will have to switch our mindset and play slightly differently," hooker Ken Owens says.
"In terms of the results, we need to get them to build that momentum and confidence. If you look back to the last World Cup and the injuries we picked up during it, it shows you need depth in your squad, and the more players who get exposed leading up to the tournament, the better."
Wales is trying out two newcomers in winger Luke Morgan, and flyhalf Jarrod Evans as the backup to Gareth Anscombe. They will be guided by a side featuring seven British Lions, including center Jonathan Davies for his first test in a year.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Luke Morgan, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Cory Hill, Dillon Lewis. Ken Owens, Nicky Smith. Reserves: Elliot Dee, Rob Evans, Leon Brown, Adam Beard, Aaron Wainwright, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Steff Evans.
Scotland: Blair Kinghorn, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Lee Jones, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie, Jonny Gray, Ben Toolis, Willem Nel, Stuart McInally (captain), Allan Dell. Reserves: Fraser Brown, Alex Allan, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Pete Horne, Darcy Graham.
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