Five changes to face Samoa
Head Coach Gregor Townsend today named five changes to the starting Scotland side to face Samoa in this Monday’s Rugby World Cup Test at Kobe Misaki Stadium (kick-off 11.15am BST, 7.15pm local time) – live on ITV/STV.
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 Rugby World Cup 2015 and the 2017 Autumn Tests.
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.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor 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 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.”
He added: “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." Head Coach Gregor Townsend
“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 Auvergne) 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 [pictured above] operating on the blindside, and Scarlets Blade Thomson at number 8.
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 team to play Samoa at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, Rugby World Cup 2019
Monday 30 September (kick-off 7.15pm local time, 11.15am BST) – live on ITV/STV
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
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