Saturday 23 March 2019

Vern Cotter makes two changes to his Scotland XV for Ireland clash

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has made two changes to his side ahead of Saturday's final RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland at BT Murrayfield.

Back-row forward Adam Ashe is promoted from the bench to take Rob Harley's slot on the blindside, while prop Ryan Grant also moves up from the replacements to take Alasdair Dickinson's role in the front-row.

The Scots are desperate to end their campaign on a high after losing all four of their matches so far.

Ireland, though, will be just as determined as they chase their second championship title in a row. They go into this decisive weekend level with England and Wales on six points and know they must win in Edinburgh to have any chance of clinching glory.

Cotter's two alterations apart, Scotland remain a fairly settled line-up and the New Zealand-born head coach goes with the same back division which impressed for spells during last week's brave display in the 25-13 defeat to England at Twickenham.

Skipper Greig Laidlaw will partner stand-off Finn Russell in the half-back positions as they start in front of Glasgow Warriors trio Mark Bennett, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour, and Edinburgh duo Dougie Fife and Matt Scott.

In the pack, tight-head Euan Murray makes history, alongside Ross Ford and Grant, overtaking Allan Jacobsen's record as the most capped Scotland prop with a 66th appearance.

Jonny Gray and Jim Hamilton will again start in the boiler house, with David Denton and Blair Cowan returning to the back row.

The only other change is among the match-day substitutes as Tim Visser replaces Johnnie Beattie.

Cotter said: "There is a strong culture in this group. Players want to do well and set the standards high.

"We've played with a huge amount of spirit and courage, are putting teams under pressure and are scoring tries, which is encouraging, but we want to go one better this Saturday against Ireland, last year's champions.

"Both ourselves and Ireland are hugely motivated for this game.

"Make no mistake, they are coming to Edinburgh believing they can win the title, while we will be going out there desperate to throw everything at our last Championship match to win the game and repay the support of our fans.

"It's time to put our bodies on the line and once again give everything, in this one, last, 80-minute push."

Scotland team to play Ireland at BT Murrayfield on Saturday:

S Hogg (Glasgow); D Fife (Edinburgh), M Bennett (Glasgow), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Seymour (Glasgow), F Russell (Glasgow), G Laidlaw (Gloucester, Capt); R Grant (Glasgow), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Glasgow), J Hamilton (Saracens), J Gray (Glasgow), A Ashe (Glasgow), B Cowan (London Irish), D Denton (Edinburgh).

Replacements: F Brown (Glasgow), A Dickinson (Edinburgh), G Cross (London Irish), T Swinson (Glasgow), R Harley (Glasgow), S Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh), G Tonks (Edinburgh), T Visser (Edinburgh).

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