February 8, 2018 / 11:34 AM / 17 days ago

Laidlaw back as Scotland make six changes

(Reuters) - Greig Laidlaw will return to Scotland’s starting lineup for Sunday’s Six Nations tie against France after coach Gregor Townsend made six changes to the side thrashed by Wales last week.

Townsend made three changes in the pack and three in the backline for the clash at Murrayfield after a meek performance in Cardiff, where Scotland were beaten 34-7 in their first game of this year’s competition.

British and Irish Lion Laidlaw, who suffered a leg fracture in October, will make his first start since the corresponding fixture in Paris last March, having been on the bench last week.

He reunites with flyhalf Finn Russell in a potentially exciting partnership.

Tighthead prop Simon Berghan returns after serving a six-week suspension in a front row that has been beset by injury problems with Jon Welsh dropping to the bench.

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs Scotland - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - February 3, 2018 Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Grant Gilchrist replaces Ben Toolis at lock and Ryan Wilson comes in for Cornell du Preez at the back of the scrum.

Sean Maitland was chosen at wing to replace Byron McGuigan, who suffered a hamstring injury in the Cardiff encounter, and Pete Horne, who scored Scotland’s only try in the match, takes the place of Chris Harris at inside centre.

“We are looking forward to putting in a performance that can energise our supporters,” said Townsend.

“To do that we need to out-work the opposition and be more accurate in a number of aspects of our play.

“We’ve seen a response from the players in training this week and that needs to continue into and through the 80-plus minutes of the match because France will pose a massive and immensely-physical challenge.”

Scotland, who were easily blown away by Wales, had been hoping to continue their good form from November’s internationals where they scored a half century of points against Australia and came close to upsetting world champions New Zealand.

Team:15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Tommy Seymour, 13-Huw Jones, 12-Pete Horne, 11-Sean Maitland, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Greig Laidlaw, 8-Ryan Wilson, 7-Hamish Watson, 6-John Barclay (captain), 5-Jonny Gray, 4-Grant Gilchrist, 3-Simon Berghan, 2-Stuart McInally, 1-Gordon Reid Replacements: 16-Scott Lawson, 17-Jamie Bhatti, 18-Jon Welsh19-Ben Toolis, 20-David Denton, 21-Ali Price, 22-Chris Harris, 23-Blair Kinghorn.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis

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