Laidlaw gets his chance at 10, while Hogg lies in wait

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BORDERS rugby players will feature strongly in Scotland’s second RBS Six Nations match, against Wales this Sunday, writes Fiona Scott.

Greg Laidlaw (Jed-Forest) gets his first start at 10, Lee Jones (Selkirk) retains his place on the wing and captain Ross Ford (Kelso) will lead the team in his usual berth of hooker with Gala prop Geoff Cross in support.

One of the most exciting additions this week, however, will be on the bench awaiting his chance to receive his first cap at the age of 19. Following his outstanding performance in Friday night’s Scotland A clash with the English Saxons at Netherdale (see page 23 for report), Hawick stand-off Stuart Hogg has been called into Andy Robinson’s first team.

Robinson has made five changes to his starting line-up following last weekend’s dismal defeat at the hands of a relatively inexperienced English outfit (see page 23 for Stuart Cameron’s review of the game).

Hogg replaces Graeme Morrison, who was the only unused substitute against England, while Cross will start the match instead of Euan Murray, who refuses to play on a Sunday for religious reasons.

Laidlaw bagged the stand-off jersey after putting on a good showing against England. The 26-year-old, who currently plies his trade with Edinburgh Rugby, stepped up to the mark when replacing the unfortunate Dan Parks in the 57th minute and went on to contrive a disallowed try.

On Tuesday, Parks announced his retirement from international rugby. Scotland’s 67-times-capped fly half admitted that he had thought about quitting after the World Cup, but the lure of the English game at the start of the Six Nations championship was too tempting. Sadly, the match didn’t go as planned and there were calls from media and fans alike to bring in fresh blood for the remaining four games.

The other two changes come in the form of prop Ed Kalman and stand-off Duncan Weir, who will join Hogg on the bench.

Scotland team to play Wales on Sunday: Rory Lamont; Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Sean Lamont, Max Evans; Greig Laidlaw, Chris Cusiter; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Alasdair Strokosch, Ross Rennie, David Denton. Subs: Scott Lawson, Ed Kalman, Alastair Kellock, John Barclay, Mike Blair, Duncan Weir, Stuart Hogg.

Elsewhere on the international scene, Gala Hooker Russell Anderson has been called up to the Scotland Under-20 squad for their game against Wales Under-20s this weekend.

Back in the Borders, all the local clubs are set to return to league action on Saturday, apart from Kelso, who received dispensation from the championship committee to move the game to February 25 to allow the club to partake in their biennial pilgrimage to Wales.

In the top flight, league leaders Melrose are looking forward to a visit from Ayr while Gala are at home to Boroughmuir. With only three points separating the two teams, who sit first and fourth on the table, both will be looking to put their earlier Premier A defeats behind them and enforce their challenges on the title.

In Premier B Jed-Forest are at home to Glasgow Hawks while Hawick travel to play Hamilton. Peebles and Selkirk have home ties against West of Scotland and Falkirk respectively in Premier C.