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Scotland make five changes to their team to face Samoa

Gregor Townsend has made five changes to the starting Scotland side to face Samoa in Monday’s World Cup match at Kobe.

Scotland have won nine of the 11 Tests between the two sides however the last two meetings underlined the Islanders’ potency in attack, scoring 33 and 38 points in defeat at World Cup 2015 and in a 2017 autumn Test.

This threat was evident again in Samoa’s bonus-point win over Russia in their opening Pool A match (34-9), with Scotland looking to the Test as a chance to bounce back from their opening round defeat to Ireland (27-3) and get their pool campaign on track.

Townsend, said: “Samoa are a team capable of scoring points from anywhere on the field. They play an ambitious brand of rugby and their team is full of skilful and powerful players.

“We had worked hard in our build-up to this tournament to deliver our best rugby but we were well below this level in our opening game against Ireland. We’ll need to be much better on Monday night against such a dangerous opponent.

(Continue reading below…)

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“It’s been a long week building towards a game where we intend to put a lot of things right. The players have responded well in training, know what is required of them and are hungry to deliver the kind of performance that keeps us in the world cup.

“The reality is we now have to win our next three games to make it out of our pool, so the knockout stages for us begin this Monday night. I firmly believe this group are ready to take on that challenge.”

Two of Scotland’s starting changes come in the backline where Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham and Gloucester centre Chris Harris – try scorers against Georgia and France in respective summer Tests – start in place of Tommy Seymour and Duncan Taylor, the latter moving to the bench.

Graham will combine with fellow Hawick man Stuart Hogg (full-back) and Saracens wing Sean Maitland in the back three, with Glasgow Warriors centre Sam Johnson returning to partner Harris in midfield.

Half-backs Greig Laidlaw (Clermont) and Finn Russell (Racing 92) start together for the 35th time, equalling the national team record of legendary pairing Roy Laidlaw [Greig’s uncle] and John Rutherford.

A new back-row trio makes up the three remaining changes in the pack. Fit-again Jamie Ritchie starts in place of the injured Hamish Watson (knee), with Watson’s wider squad replacement Magnus Bradbury operating on the blindside, and Scarlets Blade Thomson at No8.

The forwards are completed by a returning tight five of loosehead prop Allan Dell (London Irish), hooker and captain Stuart McInally and tighthead prop Willem Nel (both Edinburgh), with Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) and Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) back at lock.

Scotland (v Samoa, Monday)

 

15. Stuart Hogg VICE CAPTAIN (Exeter Chiefs) – 70 caps

14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 8 caps

13. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 11 caps

12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps

11. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 43 caps

10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 47 caps

9. Greig Laidlaw VICE CAPTAIN (Clermont Auvergne) – 74 caps

1. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 26 caps

2. Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 30 caps

3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 32 caps

4. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 37 caps

5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 53 caps

6. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 8 caps

7. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 12 caps

8. Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – 3 caps

Substitutes:

16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps

17. Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls) – 38 caps

18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 22 caps

19. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps

20. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 46 caps

21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps

22. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 14 caps

23. Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 24 caps

WATCH: The Rugby Pod reflect on a dire performance by Scotland at the World Cup

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Scotland make five changes to their team to face Samoa