#RWC2019: Five changes to Scotland team for Samoa clash

Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie and Blade Thomson added to starting XV for must-win game

Darcy Graham and Chris Harris
Darcy Graham and Chris Harris have both been added to the Scotland starting XV. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson
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GREGOR TOWNSEND has made five changes – one enforced – to the team which lost Scotland’s World Cup opener last Sunday, ahead of Monday’s must-win clash against Samoa.

A completely reshaped back-row sees Magnus Bradbury start at blindside flanker, Jamie Ritchie at openside and Blade Thomson at No 8 – with Ryan Wilson dropped to the bench, John Barclay out of the squad altogether and Hamish Watson already home after injuring his knee last weekend.

In the back-line, Chris Harris replaces Duncan Taylor, who drops to the bench, at outside centre; while Darcy Graham comes in on the right wing for Tommy Seymour.

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Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell will equal the record set by Roy Laidlaw and John Rutherford of 35 starts together for Scotland at half-back.

Zander Fagerson, George Horne and Adam Hastings are added to the bench after sitting out the Ireland game.

“Samoa are a team capable of scoring points from anywhere on the field,” said Townsend. “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.”

“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.”

Scotland (v Samoa in Kobe, Monday 30 September, kick-off 7.15pm Japan time, 11.15am BST): Stuart Hogg; D Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson. Substitutes: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Duncan Taylor.

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About David Barnes 3912 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.