LONDON – Scotland coach Gregor Townsend yesterday stuck with the same starting lineup that beat France two weeks ago for the Six Nations clash against England at Murrayfield on Saturday.
But he made three changes on the bench with fit-again prop WP Nel and lock Tim Swinson coming into the matchday 23 and centre Nick Grigg getting a place among the substitute backs after a man-of-the-match winning performance for Glasgow Warriors over the Cheetahs in the PRO14 last weekend.
Townsend’s faith in his players comes after the Scots fought back from a 10-point deficit to beat France at Murrayfield in their last Six Nations clash after starting the championship with a disappointing loss to Wales in Cardiff.
“The players put a huge amount of effort into our win over France. They found a way to win and kept attacking the opposition up until the final whistle,” said Townsend.
He will be looking for the same level of performance against unbeaten England in the traditional Calcutta Cup clash.
“Taking on England is going to be a huge challenge and we are well aware that only our very best will be good enough in this fixture,” said the Scotland coach..
“England are the number two side in the world and have shown a very good level of consistency in the past couple of seasons. This is due to the quality of their playing and coaching staff, who have done a tremendous job. They have a very good defence, an excellent set-piece and like to get 10 and 12 on the ball as much as possible in attack,” Townsend added in the team announcement.
Meanwhile, France coach Jacques Brunel reshuffled his attacking line as Les Bleus look to end an eight-game winless streak when they face Italy in the Six Nations tomorrow.
Brunel kept faith in scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud and flyhalf Lionel Beauxis after the 32-26 defeat by Scotland, but added fresh blood to the outside backs for the game in Marseille.
Winger Remy Grosso replaced the disappointing Virimi Vakatawa and Benjamin Fall came in for Teddy Thomas, France’s only try scorer in the championship who was left out of the squad after several players were sanctioned for going out late in Edinburgh 10 days ago.
Mathieu Bastareaud was named at centre in place of Remi Lamerat and Hugo Bonneval replaced Geoffrey Palis at fullback.
Geoffrey Doumayrou retained his spot at centre alongside Bastareaud.
“I’m expecting from them to bring us safety, but also creativity in other moments, and enthusiasm always,” Brunel told a news conference when referring to the team's backline.