Graham to start against Russia with Laidlaw and Hogg rested

Darcy Graham (picture by Robert Perry/Getty Images)Darcy Graham (picture by Robert Perry/Getty Images)
Darcy Graham (picture by Robert Perry/Getty Images)
Edinburgh wing and former Hawick star Darcy Graham is the only player retained from the starting line-up which defeated Samoa – and the only Borderer – in Scotland’s XV to face Russia in the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday.

The penultimate Pool A match takes place in Shizuoka at 8.15am BST – live on ITV/STV.

Graham starts again after the 34-0 win over Samoa in Kobe, with all eight players on the bench that day promoted to start – Fraser Brown, Scott Cummings, Zander Fagerson, Adam Hastings, George Horne, Gordon Reid, Duncan Taylor and Ryan Wilson.

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Full-back Blair Kinghorn [below], centre Pete Horne, lock Ben Toolis and hooker George Turner get their first chance to make a mark on this year’s tournament from kick-off, with recent squad addition Henry Pyrgos handed the opportunity to do likewise from the bench.

Wing Tommy Seymour and back-row John Barclay complete the starting side, coming in from outside the match-day 23 that faced the Pacific Islanders.

There is no place this time for ex-Jed-Forest scrum half Greig Laidlaw or former Hawick favourite Stuart Hogg – possibly with one eye on the crucial final Pool match against Japan on Sunday.

Wednesday’s opponents, Russia, have conceded at least 30 points in each of their three Pool A defeats so far but Scotland know they still deserve respect.

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Head coach, ex-Gala legend Gregor Townsend said: “First and foremost, we’ve picked a team we believe is capable of defeating an increasingly impressive and combative Russia side, who are looking to finish their Pool campaign on a high.

“A number of our players are getting their first start or Test in this tournament and have been itching to play their part in this World Cup, by helping the team deliver a winning performance on Wednesday.”

In the backs, Saracens centre Duncan Taylor partners Pete Horne in midfield, with the reselected Darcy Graham joined by Blair Kinghorn and Tommy Seymour in the back three.

Townsend added: “Any successful World Cup campaign is built on a squad effort and those players who didn’t get the opportunity to start against Samoa really helped provide that team with a quality week of preparation.

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“Now it’s their chance to get stuck into our next important game as we enter the final week of our Pool matches.”

Scotland team to play Russia: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Darcy Graham, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne; 1 Gordon Reid, 2 George Turner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Scott Cummings, 5 Ben Toolis, 6 John Barclay (c), 7 Fraser Brown, 8 Ryan Wilson. Subs: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Simon Berghan, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Jamie Ritchie, 22 Henry Pyrgos , 23 Chris Harris.