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Autumn international

Townsend rings the changes for Pumas’ visit

Gregor Townsend is ready for a tough test against Argentina

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is expecting an energetic performance from his players against Argentina (pic: SNS Group)


 

It’s all change for Scotland with head coach Gregor Townsend making numerous alterations to the starting line-up for the final match in the Autumn Test series against Argentina at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

The Scottish pack which fronted up so well against the Springboks last weekend sees six changes, including a new starting front row of prop Allan Dell, hooker Fraser Brown and prop Simon Berghan, which finished the match against South Africa.

Lock Jonny Gray retains his starting place in the second row and is joined by Grant Gilchrist in place of Ben Toolis. Jamie Ritchie’s recent impressive performances see him come back into the XV at blindside flanker, with Sam Skinner, who played six last Saturday, moving to the bench after featuring in the last two matches.

Josh Strauss starts his first match since the 2017 summer tour at number eight.

In the back division there are three changes, two in personnel and one positional, with captain Greig Laidlaw continuing at scrum-half.

Finn Russell moves to inside-centre as Adam Hastings starts at fly-half to continue an exciting combination which has finished the last two Autumn Tests versus Fiji and South Africa respectively.

Huw Jones retains his place at outside-centre with Blair Kinghorn starting his first match of the autumn at wing. Stuart Hogg has recovered from his ankle knock to stay at full-back and Sean Maitland again plays on the wing.

Last week’s starting front row players Stuart McInally and WP Nel move to the bench and are joined by Glasgow Warriors prop Alex Allan. Ryan Wilson comes onto the bench after featuring in all three Autumn Tests, as does centre Alex Dunbar and scrum-half George Horne. Sale Sharks wing Byron McGuigan joins the matchday 23 for the first time this series to complete the bench.

“Under Mario Ledesma Argentina delivered some outstanding performances and they were hugely impressive in their victories over South Africa and Australia in the recent Rugby Championship,” said Townsend.

“I’m sure that they will throw everything at us to end their international season on a high note.

“With four Test matches in succession, we’ve been conscious of rotating the squad to enable as many players as possible to be in the best physical condition for each contest. We are expecting those selected this weekend to bring energy and huge effort to the game and seize the opportunity to perform at their best level against a very good team.

“It will be another huge challenge, not only for our forward pack, but also for our defence – as Argentina play ambitious, skilful and effective attacking rugby.”

It was only five months ago the two teams last met as part of the summer tour which saw an impressive Scotland performance rack up a record 44-15 win over the Pumas in Resistencia.

Kick-off on Saturday is 2.30pm.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Finn Russell, Blair Kinghorn; Adam Hastings Greig Laidlaw (capt); Alan Dell, Fraser Brown, Simon Berghan; Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Stuart McInally, Alex Allan, Willem Nel, Sam Skinner, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Alex Dunbar, Byron McGuigan.



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