16 Mar One change as Scots target record finish
Head Coach Vern Cotter has named one change to the starting Scotland side to face Italy in this Saturday’s final RBS 6 Nations match at BT Murrayfield (kick-off 12.30pm) – live on BBC.
Scotland cap centurion Ross Ford [right] will start his first match of the championship in place of hooker Fraser Brown, who moves to the bench.
Brown is accompanied by Gloucester centre Matt Scott, who joins an otherwise unchanged bench in place of injured Glasgow Warriors back Mark Bennett, who damaged his knee and arm in the early part of last weekend’s loss to England.
Six of the starting side were nursing injuries earlier this week, with Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Ryan Wilson continuing their graduated return to play protocol, while Finn Russell, Huw Jones (both knee) and Richie Gray (hamstring) have recovered.
Providing the trio complete the progressive protocol, Hogg and Seymour will be joined by Harlequins wing Tim Visser once more, while captain John Barclay and Hamish Watson accompany Ryan Wilson in the loose forwards.
At lock Jonny Gray will partner brother Richie, with Glasgow Warriors duo Zander Fagerson and Gordon Reid packing down in the front-row with Ford.
Half-backs Ali Price and Finn Russell join centres Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones in the starting line-up for the third test in a row.
Scotland Head Coach, Vern Cotter, said: “The players were frustrated by last weekend but we must take all the learnings from the past years and produce a strong, complete performance to put us in the best possible position to finish in the top-half of the table.
“We want to repay the support of another sell-out crowd.”
A win for Scotland could see them equal their best-ever finish in the campaign (currently third on three previous occasions), while other results could conspire to help Scotland to second place for the first time since the Five Nations became six in 2000.
Cotter added: “Matches between Scotland and Italy have always been tough affairs. “We have a lot of respect for them and feel they have been improving throughout the competition.
“They showed in this campaign they can be innovative, so preparation has been key to ensuring we put in a good performance. “We have to be ready for anything.”
Scotland team to play Italy at BT Murrayfield, RBS 6 Nations
Saturday 18 March (kick-off 12.30pm) – live on BBC
15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) – 52 caps; 16 tries, 3 pens, 89 points
14. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 35 caps; 15 tries, 75 points
13. Huw Jones (Stormers) – 7 caps; 4 tries, 20 points
12. Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 23 caps; 6 tries, 30 points
11. Tim Visser (Harlequins) – 30 caps; 12 tries, 60 points
10. Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) – 26 caps; 2 tries, 8 cons, 8 pens, 50 points
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
1. Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) – 23 caps; 1 try, 5 points
2. Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) – 106 caps; 2 tries, 10 points
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
4. Richie Gray (Toulouse) – 64 caps; 3 tries, 15 points
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps; 2 tries, 10 points
6. John Barclay CAPTAIN (Scarlets) – 59 caps; 4 tries, 20 points
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 9 caps; 1 try, 5 points
8. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 26 caps
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 24 caps
17. Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby) – 7 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby) – 2 cap
19. Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 28 caps; 1 try, 5 points
20. Cornell Du Preez (Edinburgh Rugby) – 1 cap
21. Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps; 4 tries, 3 pens, 29 points
22. Duncan Weir (Edinburgh Rugby) – 26 caps; 2 tries, 7 cons, 10 pens, 1 drop, 57 points
23. Matt Scott (Gloucester) – 36 caps; 4 tries, 20 points