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Townsend springs scrumhalf surprise for Ireland showdown

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has revealed his team to face Ireland in their crunch Pool B match in Saint-Denis on Saturday.

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Blair Kinghorn will win a 50th Scotland cap as one of 12 changes to the starting line-up.

The fullback lines up as part of a back three containing wings Darcy Graham – who bagged four tries in last week’s win against Romania – and Duhan van der Merwe. Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones resume a familiar starting centre partnership which has enjoyed nine outings in 2023.

As part of a halfback pairing that will combine to pass 140 caps on Saturday, scrumhalf Ali Price gets the nod to partner flyhalf Finn Russell.

Price, who wore the No.9 jersey against Romania, has been picked ahead of Ben White, who doesn’t make the matchday 23.

White was Scotland’s first-choice No.9 during the Six Nations and he started in the opening two pool games against South Africa and Tonga.

Loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman and tighthead Zander Fagerson return to the front row alongside hooker George Turner.

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Grant Gilchrist, who led Scotland in their previous match against Romania, is joined in an experienced second row by Richie Gray, with openside flank Rory Darge and No.8 Jack Dempsey featuring in a back row completed by returning captain Jamie Ritchie at blindside.

The replacements comprise backline options George Horne and Ollie Smith, as Townsend opts for a six-strong forwards bench bolstered by front-row reinforcements Ewan Ashman, Rory Sutherland and WP Nel, as well as Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson and Luke Crosbie.

After wins over Tonga and Romania, victory in Pool B’s final match, against Ireland, could see Scotland reach the quarterfinals of World Cup 2023.

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 WP Nel, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 Luke Crosbie, 22 George Horne, 23 Ollie Smith.

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Date: Saturday, October 7
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 20.00 UK & Ireland time)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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