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Scotland make wholesale changes for Romania clash

By Tom Vinicombe
Scotland's Grant Gilchrist (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Head coach Gregor Townsend has rejigged Scotland’s line-up for the second-last pool game of the side’s Rugby World Cup campaign.

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Just two players who featured in the starting line-up from last weekend’s victory over Tonga have been retained in the run-on side for Saturday’s clash with Romania in Toulouse, midfielder Chris Harris and wing Kyle Steyn.

In the front row, Jamie Bhatti and Javan Sebastian will sandwich hooker Ewan Ashman, while Sam Skinner and new captain Grant Gilchrist will pack down at lock.

Luke Crosbie, Hamish Watson – in his first appearance of the tournament – and number 8 Matt Fagerson round out the pack.

Ali Price and Ben Healy will guide Scotland around the park from the halves with outside centre Harris partnering Cam Redpath. Steyn switches from the right wing to the left, allowing Darcy Graham to don the No 14 jersey. Rounding out the starting line-up, Ollie Smith gets a shot at fullback.

Team Form

Last 5 Games

3
Wins
1
2
Streak
1
25
Tries Scored
11
99
Points Difference
-81
2/5
First Try
1/5
2/5
First Points
1/5
3/5
Race To 10 Points
2/5

Johnny Matthews could make his Test debut off the bench having only recently joined the squad as a replacement for Stuart McInally while the rest of the reserves boast plenty of experience between them. Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Scott Cummings and Rory Darge will cover the forwards and George Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Huw Jones will look to provide impact in the backline.

While Scotland suffered an 18-3 loss to South Africa in the opening game of their 2023 World Cup campaign, a strong performance against Tonga means they can still progress to the knockout stages of the competition provided they win their final two matches against Romania and Ireland.

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Romania, on the other hand, have endured a torrid time of things in France, losing their first two matches of the competition by 74 points and 76 points against Ireland and South Africa respectively.

Scotland’s match with Romania is set to kick off at 9pm CET on Saturday.

Scotland: Ollie Smith, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Cameron Redpath, Kyle Steyn, Ben Healy, Ali Price, Matt Fagerson, Hamish Watson, Luke Crosbie, Grant Gilchrist (c), Sam Skinner, Javan Sebastian, Ewan Ashman, Jamie Bhatti. Reserves: Johnny Matthews, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Rory Darge, George Horne, Blair Kinghorn, Huw Jones.

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Comments

1 Comment
H
Hector 295 days ago

Not a bad side. After two very physical games, apart from Ritchie, we're still in a pretty healthy state. Well done the medical team.
Really excited to see the likes of Redpath on the hoof and great to see Watson back on the park. He'll have a point to prove.
It's been quite a while since Scotland has had enough strength in depth to field pretty much two really competitive teams.

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finn 7 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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