March 14, 2019 / 2:05 PM / 12 days ago

Six changes for underdogs Scotland against England

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has made six changes to his side for Saturday’s Six Nations clash against England at Twickenham and called for an “outstanding defensive performance”.

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v Ireland - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 9, 2019 Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend before the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

Scotland start overwhelming underdogs for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup match after an injury-hampered campaign.

England-based Sean Maitland and Byron McGuigan come into the side in place of Blair Kinghorn and Tommy Seymour, who were both injured in last weekend’s loss to Wales, adding to a long list of setbacks to hit Scotland this year.

Australia-born centre Sam Johnson, who debuted at the start of the Six Nations when Scotland beat Italy 33-20, replaces club mate Pete Horne.

British and Irish Lions lock Jonny Gray has also been dropped with Ben Toolis taking his place, to partner Grant Gilchrist and help form an all-Edinburgh tight five along with the frontrow of Allan Dell, captain Stuart McInally and Willem Nel.

Hamish Watson replaces Jamie Ritchie, who has not recovered from the injury he sustained against Wales, as openside flanker and Sam Skinner returns from injury to scrum down on the blindside.

That means Magnus Bradbury moves to number eight with Josh Strauss relegated to the bench.

“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,” Townsend said on Thursday.

“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,” the coach added.

Scotland have lost their last three games in the Six Nations to Ireland, France and Wales and are looking for their first success at Twickenham in 36 years.

They have, however, a woeful away record. Since the start of the Six Nations in 2000, discounting then newcomers Italy, Scotland have won just twice on the road against Wales in 2002 and Ireland eight years later.

Team:

15-Sean Maitland, 14-Darcy Graham, 13-Nick Grigg, 12-Sam Johnson, 11-Byron McGuigan, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Ali Price, 8-Magnus Bradbury, 7-Hamish Watson, 6-Sam Skinner, 5-Grant Gilchrist, 4-Ben Toolis, 3-Willem Nel, 2-Stuart McInally (captain), 1-Allan Dell

Replacements: 16-Fraser Brown, 17-Gordon Reid, 18-Simon Berghan, 19-Jonny Gray, 20-Josh Strauss, 21-Greig Laidlaw, 22-Adam Hastings, 23-Chris Harris.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by David Goodman and Toby Davis

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