Scotland make four changes for showdown with Ireland

Blair Kinghorn has dropped to the bench after scoring a hat-trick against Italy

Saracens wing Sean Maitland has come in to the Scotland side for the Six Nations clash with Ireland on Saturday. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Saracens wing Sean Maitland has come in to the Scotland side for the Six Nations clash with Ireland on Saturday. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

 

Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland

Kick off: 2.15pm, Saturday. Venue: Murrayfield. How to follow: The Irish Times liveblog begins at 1.30pm. On TV: Virgin Media and BBC One.

Hat-trick hero Blair Kinghorn has dropped to the bench as Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend made four changes for the Guinness Six Nations clash with Ireland.

Kinghorn has made way for the fit-again Saracens winger Sean Maitland despite bagging three tries in Scotland’s opening victory over Italy.

The other three changes for Saturday’s BT Murrayfield contest come in the pack. Prop Simon Berghan and back-row forward Josh Strauss replace injured pair WP Nel (calf) and Sam Skinner (ankle), while Jonny Gray has recovered from a shoulder injury to displace Ben Toolis.

Townsend said: “We picked up two injuries from last week with WP (Nel) and Sam (Skinner) missing out, which is disappointing for us and them, but have had a boost with a number of proven Test players returning from injury and available to us this week.

“To have that calibre of player and experience around the group in the build-up this week, and during a game of such magnitude, is very important.

“Saturday’s game is massive. It’s probably the biggest challenge we’ll face in the Guinness Six Nations, given the way Ireland have been playing in the last few years — they are Grand Slam Champions and the number-two team in the world.

“They’re very well coached, have some outstanding players and will test us in a number of areas — defensively, set-piece, attack and kicking game. It is a challenge that brings an extra edge and focus to training and something our players relish taking on.

“Our players have risen to the challenge of playing New Zealand, England and other world-class teams and they are aware that we must rise once more to produce one of our best-ever performances for 80 minutes.”

SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Ryan Wilson, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, D’Arcy Rae, Ben Toolis, Rob Harley, Ali Price, Peter Horne, Blair Kinghorn.

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