Preview: Scotland v Georgia
WORLD CUP WARM-UP: Glasgow Warriors back row Ryan Wilson will captain Scotland for the first time in the national team’s final Test match against Georgia at BT Murrayfield Stadium this Friday.
cotland opened a fortnight of firsts last weekend in Tbilisi as the first Tier One nation to travel for a Test match on Georgian soil, with Friday’s return fixture in Edinburgh the first ever Scotland home game on a Friday outside the Rugby World Cup.
Head Coach Townsend has made 12 changes to the starting side that defeated Georgia 44-10 at the Dinamo Arena, naming a starting XV who yesterday were announced in the 31-man squad for Rugby World Cup 2019, with six of the eight replacements also set to take the plane to Japan on Monday.
Glasgow Warriors Tommy Seymour and Scarlets number 8 Blade Thomson have completed the graduated return to play protocol for concussions sustained against France almost fortnight ago, while lock Jonny Gray will feature for the first time since sustaining a hamstring strain in pre-season.
Townsend said: “We’ve been together since the middle of June and Friday night is our final chance this year to play in front of our supporters.
“It’s another opportunity for players to get valuable game time and build on what was a very good performance last weekend in Georgia. We are very aware that Georgia will be much improved after their first hit out of the season and they will know much more about how we play.
He added: “It’s a boost to have Jonny back in side for the first time since last season and for others, like Tommy, Blade and Duncan, to have made a return to full fitness, following their recent injuries.
“It’s also great to involve two players in our squad this weekend – Grant Stewart and Magnus Bradbury – who just missed out on selection to our group to travel to Japan.
“As with all those that didn’t make the 31-man squad, it’s important they keep training and playing well in case they get a call up during the tournament.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Scotland fans for their unprecedented levels of support this summer. We are looking forward to playing in front of another big crowd at BT Murrayfield.
I’d also like to thank the players and management for their outstanding contributions throughout our World Cup camp. It’s a credit to their hard work and professionalism that the squad are in such great physical condition.
“Friday gives us the opportunity to keep improving and get one step closer to playing our best rugby over the next few weeks.”
An entirely new pack that will take to the field from the outset on Friday night, with Glasgow Warriors pair George Turner and Zander Fagerson combining with Ayrshire Bulls loosehead Gordon Reid making up the front-row.
Glasgow Warriors lock Scott Cummings has been promoted from the bench to feature alongside the returning Gray, while back-row Jamie Ritchie completes the loose forwards alongside Wilson and Thomson.
In the backs, Saracens centre Duncan Taylor combines with a Sam Johnson in a new-look midfield, Glasgow Warriors half-backs half Ali Price and Adam Hastings get their second chance to start together in the campaign, while Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn and Darcy Graham return to start alongside fit-again Seymour.
#HappyInBattle🗣 I had solid decision not to return to international rugby, but the current situation in a team, caused my return – I was needed and I came back!” – Mamuka Gorgodze
— Georgian Rugby Union (@GeorgianRugby) September 3, 2019
Scotland: 15 Blair Kingholm, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Darcy Graham, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jamie Richie, 6 Ryan Wilson (captain), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 George Horne, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Chris Harris.
Georgia: 15 Soso Matiashvili, 14 Zurab Dzneladze, 13 Davit Katcharava, 12 Lasha Malaghuradze, 11 Mirian Modebadze, 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 6 Shalva Sutiashvili, 5 Giorgi Nemsadze, 4 Kote Mikautadze, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili (captain)
Replacements: 16 Vano Karkadze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Lasha Lomidze, 20 Beka Saghinadze, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Tamaz Mtchedlidze, 23 Giorgi Kveseladze
Date: Friday, September 6
Venue: BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 19.30 (18.30 GMT, 20.30 Georgia Time)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)