Gray back for Scotland as Townsend changes four

Charlie Bennett
07 February 2019

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Scotland might have run out convincing winners against Italy last week but head coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes to his side for Ireland’s visit on Saturday.

Scotland finished Round One on top of the pile thanks to their 33-20 victory against Conor O’Shea’s men.

But they know that run will face a stern test against defending champions Ireland, who will be out to prove a point after their home defeat to England last weekend.

Hat-trick hero Kinghorn rested, while Gray returns

Townsend’s first big decision comes on the wing, where Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn drops to the bench despite scoring a hat-trick against the Azzurri.

Sean Maitland replaces him in Townsend’s starting XV, while Kinghorn’s club team-mate Simon Berghan replaces the injured WP Nel in the No.3 jersey.

The Edinburgh changes continue in Townsend’s XV with lock Ben Toolis dropped to the bench in place of Glasgow Warriors’ Jonny Gray.

The towering second row is a key player for Townsend and scored in back-to-back Autumn Internationals against New Zealand and Australia in November.

Wilson whisked back in

Gray’s club team-mate Ryan Wilson will start at blindside in the absence of Sam Skinner while Fraser Brown returns to the bench after two months out with a knee issue in a more complete Scotland squad.

D’Arcy Rae will take a place alongside fellow Warrior Brown on the bench as tighthead cover and Rob Harley, who hasn’t played in a Scottish jersey since summer 2017, is the back-row option.

Glasgow Warriors’ Peter Horne has also recovered from injury to take over from Guinness PRO14 team-mate Adam Hastings as the fly-half replacement.

Townsend has described the threat of the Irish as “probably the biggest challenge we’ll face in the Six Nations, given the way Ireland have been playing in the last few years.”

Scotland team to play Ireland in the Guinness Six Nations:

15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
14. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors)
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors)
12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors)
11. Sean Maitland (Saracens)
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92)
9. Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) (Capt)

1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh)
2. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)
3. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh)
4. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh)
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors)
6. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)
7. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh)
8. Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks)

16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors)
17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors)
18. D’arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors)
19. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh)
20. Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors)
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors)
22. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors)
23. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh)

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