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Laidlaw and Maitland start for Scotland in Tbilisi

Laidlaw and Maitland start for Scotland in Tbilisi

Fresh from starring roles in the win over France last weekend British & Irish Lions Sean Maitland and Greig Laidlaw have been retained in Scotland’s starting XV to take on Georgia on Saturday.

Maitland, a Lions tourist in 2013, scored one of Scotland’s two tries against France while Laidlaw added seven points with the boot, they start on the wing and scrum-half respectively in Tbilisi (31 August, kick-off 5pm BST).

Laidlaw is once again partnered by fellow Lion Finn Russell in the half-backs, while centre Sam Johnson will make his first Scotland appearance since emerging on the international scene in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.

The midfielder is one of ten changes and makes his comeback alongside 23-year-old Rory Hutchinson, who will start his first Test for his country.

Scotland will be the first Tier One national side to travel for a Test on Georgian soil, which doubles as the last opportunity for players to stake their claim for the final 31-man group for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said: “We’re pleased to welcome Sam [Johnson] back into the side, having performed so well for us in the spring, while a number of other players also get the opportunity to build on Saturday’s performance.

“There were improvements in our back-to-back games against France, in particular in defence, game management and at scrum, as well some elements of our attack.

“All of these will be put to the test against a very good Georgian side who we expect to be extremely motivated by their passionate home support.”

Hooker Stuart McInally returns to start the match and will captain the side once again, having done so in the opening Test against France in Nice, while the team also features first campaign starts for full-back Blair Kinghorn, Lions prop Allan Dell and No.8 Matt Fagerson.

In the pack, prop Willem Nel starts again on the tighthead side alongside Dell and McInally in the front-row, while second and back-row forwards Grant Gilchrist and John Barclay have been promoted from the bench to start.

Lock Ben Toolis comes into the squad to start alongside Gilchrist, while last weekend’s man-of the-match, Hamish Watson, returns to link up with Barclay and Fagerson in the loose forwards.

Scotland team to play Georgia in the Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi
(kick-off 5pm BST)

15. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh)
14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh)
13. Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors)
11. Sean Maitland (Saracens)
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92)
9. Greig Laidlaw VICE CAPTAIN (Clermont Auvergne)

1. Allan Dell (London Irish)
2. Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Edinburgh)
3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh)
4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh)
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh)
6. John Barclay VICE CAPTAIN (Edinburgh)
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh)
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)

Replacements:
16. Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors)
17. Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh)
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)
19. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors)
20. Josh Strauss (Blue Bulls)
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors)
22. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors)
23. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors)

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