Scotland look to sign off for World Cup in style

Vern Cotter picks a strong side for second game against Italy

 Vern Cotter: the New Zealander will be expecting a convincing home victory for Scotland after the success in Turin last week.  Photo  Michael Steele/Getty Images

Vern Cotter: the New Zealander will be expecting a convincing home victory for Scotland after the success in Turin last week. Photo Michael Steele/Getty Images

 

A second win in a week over the Azzurri today would not go amiss if Vern Cotter’s Scotland side are to leave for the World Cup with anything like a skip in their stride.

Not that it will be easy. For the third warm-up game running the New Zealander has made wholesale changes.

In fact, only Sean Lamont, seeking to prove that his 34-year-old legs are up to the task, survives from the side that won in Turin last weekend.

However, today’s starting XV has more than a hint of the real deal about it.

For a start, the Six Nations half-backs Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell both play their first game and Grant Gilchrist will start in the second row alongside another World Cup shoo-in, Jonny Gray.

The partnerships

Alasdair DickinsonRoss FordWillem Nel

That fixture will be home from home for Laidlaw, who plays his club rugby at Kingsholm.

Italy, who confirmed their World Cup 31 this week, make eight changes, including a major overhaul of the backline, from the Turin side but there is still not sign of the national captain and totem, Sergio Parisse.

Cotter will be looking for a convincing win after a lean lead-up to Turin and the first victory of 2015. Guardian Service

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