Borders players help carry Scotland’s hopes against Auld Enemy

Jamie Bhatti in action for Melrose (picture by Ian Georgeson)
Jamie Bhatti in action for Melrose (picture by Ian Georgeson)

Head coach Gregor Townsend has reselected the starting line-up from Scotland’s round two win over France (32-26) for Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations/Calcutta Cup clash with England at BT Murrayfield Stadium (kick-off 4.45pm, live on BBC1).

That means ex-Hawick ace Stuart Hogg and Jedburgh-linked Greig Laidlaw should be on from the start, while Melrose/Glasgow prop forward Jamie Bhatti may join the action again from the bench.

The Scots fought back from a 10-point deficit on two occasions and scored 12 unanswered points in the final quarter to post their first win of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations Championship, with the two-try showing rewarded with reselection for the staring XV.

There are, however, three changes to the bench, with fit-again prop Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) and lock Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – both of whom returned to the squad this week – named among the replacements in place of Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons) and Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby).

Centre Nick Grigg is the only change among the backs replacements, as a reward for his consistency of performance for Glasgow Warriors, highlighted in his man-of-the-match winning performance for the club in their bonus-point win over Cheetahs last weekend.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend – who brought the squad to his home club of Gala last Friday for an open-to-the-public training session – said: “The players put a huge amount of effort into our win over France. They found a way to win and kept attacking the opposition up until the final whistle.

“England are the number two side in the world and have shown a very good level of consistency in the past couple of seasons. This is down to the quality of their playing and coaching staff, who have done a tremendous job.

“They have a very good defence, an excellent set-piece and like to get 10 and 12 on the ball as much as possible in attack. Taking on England is going to be a huge challenge and we are well aware that only our very best will be good enough in this fixture.

“As always, our supporters will play a vital role throughout the match and we’re delighted to be back at BT Murrayfield with the backing of our home fans.”

The unchanged starting side means Scotland’s British & Irish Lions backline quintet of Hogg, Laidlaw, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell and Tommy Seymour return, with the Glasgow Warriors partnership of Pete Horne and Huw Jones completing the division.

Edinburgh Rugby provide half the pack with prop Simon Berghan, hooker Start McInally, lock Grant Gilchrist and back-row Hamish Watson back in the fold, with London Irish loosehead Gordon Reid returning to the front row, Jonny Gray completing the second row and captain John Barclay and vice-captain Ryan Wilson in the back row once again.

The Scotland line-up: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (vice-captain), 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Stuart McInally, 3 Simon Berghan, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 John Barclay (captain), 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Ryan Wilson (vice-captain). Substitutes: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 David Denton, 21 Ali Price, 22 Nick Grigg, 23 Blair Kinghorn.