Rugby World Cup
Wales vs. Uruguay: Weakened Wales still too strong for unknown Uruguay
Will Kent
September 19, 2015
Will injuries cost Wales?

With the World Cup now in full swing, Wales are looking to start their campaign in similar fashion to how they ended their warm-ups against Italy with a victory. Gatland's men will be wanting to silence their new doubters who've erupted since the double injury blow to Rhys Webb and Leigh Halfpenny, while they'll also be looking to build some valuable momentum going into vital fixtures with England and Australia. And their opening game against the unknown Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium is no doubt the best place to do just that.

Team news

Warren Gatland clearly has set his eyes on next week's crunch match against England as he's named an understrength team to open their World Cup campaign against Uruguay tomorrow. The Welshman has left out several star names such as George North, Jamie Roberts and Gethin Jenkins ahead of their expected easiest game of the tournament.

Dan Biggar, Alun-Wyn Jones and Taulupe Faletau will also be sitting out their nation's first fixture, while Samson Lee - who hasn't played since March due to an Achilles injury - is joined by other returnee Liam Williams who himself hasn't played since the end of last season due to having foot surgery. Scrum-half Gareth Davis also earns his first start after previously only featuring in a Wales shirt as a substitute against Italy.

From the Uruguayan camp, coach Pablo Lemoine's match day squad is very inexperienced at the highest level with not one player from the 23-man squad having any World Cup experience. Four members play their rugby in Europe while the rest remain in Uruguay, apart from Alejo Corral who plays for San Isidro for Argentina. The most experienced starting line-up player is hooker Carlos Arboleya, who'll be making his 51st test appearance.

© Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Wales not feeling sorry for themselves - Gatland
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Wales

Liam Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos, Rhys Priestland, Gareth Davies, Paul James, Scott Baldwin, Samson Lee, Luke Charteris, Jake Ball, Sam Warburton (capt), Justin Tipuric, James King.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Aaron Jarvis, Tomas Francis, Dominic Day, Dan Lydiate, Ross Moriarty, Lloyd Williams, Matthew Morgan.

Uruguay

Alejo Corral, Carlos Arboleya, Mario Sagario, Santiago Vilaseca, Jorge Zerbino, Juan Manuel Gaminara, Matias Beer, Alejandro Nieto, Agustin Ormaechea, Felipe Berchesi, Rodrigo Silva, Andres Vilaseca (capt), Joaquin Prada, Santiago Gibernau, Gaston Meres.

Replacements: German Kessler, Oscar Duran, Mateo Sanguinetti, Franco Lamanna, Agustin Alonso, Juan De Freitas, Alejo Duran, Francisco Bulanti.

Key head-to-head

It's difficult to pick a straight head-to-head in what is expected to be such a one sided affair. From a Wales perspective, It'll be interesting to see how Williams and Lee cope after their injuries, while Davies' inclusion in the XV will be an intriguing one to watch.

Mike Phillips was one many tipped to replace the injured Rhys Webb, especially as Davies has only started one regional game in 11 months and never actually started a Test for Wales. The Scarlets pass master had to recover from a serious knee injury to even secure his World Cup place and now has the opportunity to lock his spot as Gatland's number one scrum-half if he puts in a solid performance against the Teros. Lloyd Williams, alongside late call-up Phillips, is another option, so Davies knows he has genuine contenders for his position hot on his tail.

Key stats

* Up until December 2012, Uruguay had won 81 of their 175 matches, equating to a respectable win percentage of 46.29%.

* Wales' past nine results at the Millennium Stadium have alternated between victory and defeat; they won their last game there, against Italy on September 5.

* Wales scored 168 points in the 2007 World Cup, averaging 42 points a game, yet still didn't manage to escape the pool, which is something they're at genuine risk of again this time round.

Odds

Due to Wales being huge favourites, Unibet aren't taking bets on them to win. But, if you fancy an underdog, you can get Uruguay to win at 75/1. Another possible punt is the first scoring play to come as a Welsh penalty goal at 7/2, while Unibet's 9/4 odds on the first try scorer to be a Forward could be worth a go.

Wales are 25/1 to win the tournament.

Weather


The weather is set to be cloudy with an outbreak of sun throughout the afternoon. Rain is unlikely with temperatures looking to reach a maximum of 16 degrees by mid-afternoon in the Welsh capital.

Prediction

The unknown Uruguayan's still shouldn't pose a problem to the weakened Welsh side which still boasts one of their stand-out performers from the warm-up fixtures in Justin Tipuric. While Gatland's side has some newer faces, many of these fringe players still have a point to prove to Gatland ahead of their more competitive games with Australia, England and Fiji, so a strong performance is still expected. Wales should definitely walk away with victory at the Millennium Stadium, setting them up with a bit of valuable momentum going into the decisive matches with the remaining Pool A opponents.

Play ESPNfootytips Rugby World Cup Tipping

© Will Kent

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