Scotland Six Nations: Six changes to team to face England in Calcutta Cup clash
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made six changes to his starting XV to face England at Twickenham in the final round of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship.
There are three changes apiece in the forwards and backs, with injury forcing Townsend to rejig his starting line-up.
English Premiership duo Sean Maitland and Byron McGuigan come in for Blair Kinghorn and Tommy Seymour, who both sustained injuries in the 18-11 loss to Wales last weekend. They line up alongside try-scorer Darcy Graham who continues at right-wing.
Sam Johnson starts at inside-centre in place of Glasgow Warriors team-mate Pete Horne for his fourth Test start of the tournament. He lines up against another Scotstoun colleague in midfield in Nick Grigg, while Ali Price and Finn Russell continue at scrum-half and fly-half respectively.
In the forward division, Edinburgh lock Ben Toolis - a sub against Wales - swaps places with Warriors counterpart Jonny Gray, completing an all-Capital tight-five along with Allan Dell, captain Stuart McInally and Willem Nel, while Edinburgh flanker Jamie Ritchie - still nursing a head/neck injury sustained against the Welsh - makes way for club-mate Hamish Watson at openside flanker.
Sam Skinner replaces Josh Strauss, who drops to the bench, with Magnus Bradbury moving to No.8 for the first time at national team level and Skinner starting at blindside.
Sean Maitland starts at full-back with Stuart Hogg and Kinghorn both injured. Adam Hastings was deployed as an emergency full-back against Wales but is named among the replacements once again alongside Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Greig Laidlaw, Chris Harris, Gray and Strauss.
Reviewing his selection, Townsend said: “First of all we have to build on the positive aspects of our performance from last weekend against Wales, when we were able to generate quick ball and build a lot of pressure on the opposition.
“The character and fitness the players displayed showed, in the second-half, what the team is capable of against one of the best sides in the world. The next step is making that pressure count on the scoreboard, more regularly.
“Winning away from home tends to be achieved through an outstanding defensive performance and we are determined to deliver that this Saturday. At times against Wales we weren’t aggressive or accurate enough so that has been a focus for us this week in training.”
Commenting on his decision to start Skinner and Toolis, Townsend added: “They started for us against Italy and deserve another opportunity to show what they can do in a blue jersey.
“While it’s tough on Jamie [Ritchie] to miss this game through injury, we’re delighted to bring back Hamish Watson into the starting line-up. He made a real impact on Saturday and we have no doubt that he’s ready to take the game to the opposition in attack and defence.
“Sam [Skinner] brings a lot of set-piece nous and gives us good balance in the back-row and we are keen to give Magnus [Bradbury] an opportunity to start at number eight.
“He did a number of good things last weekend, there is more to come from him and, as a pack, we know we have to deliver a massive performance of work-rate and physicality this weekend.
“Sam Johnson gets an opportunity to build on his strong performances against Italy and Ireland, while it’s good to have Sean Maitland back in the back-three alongside Darcy and Byron, who both played well last weekend.
“These three players and the team as a whole, will have to put in a lot of work off the ball to counter this threat on Saturday.”
Scotland team to play England in London in round five of the Guinness Six Nations
15. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 39 caps
14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 3 caps
13. Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
11. Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) – 7 caps
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 43 caps
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 23 caps
1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 21 caps
2. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 26 caps
3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 28 caps
4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 17 caps
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 32 caps
6. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 4 caps
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 24 caps
8. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 6 caps
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 41 caps
17. Gordon Reid (London Irish) – 33 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
19. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 50 caps
20. Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks) – 21 caps
21. Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) – 70 caps
22. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 10 caps
23. Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) – 7 caps