Watson starts as Scotland make six changes for England


Edinburgh (AFP)

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has recalled back-row forward Hamish Watson as one of six changes to his starting side for Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash away to England.

The Scots will hope to finish the Six Nations by retaining the Calcutta Cup with just their second win of the Championship following last week's 18-11 loss to leaders Wales at Murrayfield -- a match where Watson impressed off the bench.

Townsend had also recalled Watson's fellow back-row forward Sam Skinner as well as full-back Sean Maitland, who plays his club rugby for English champions Saracens.

Wing Byron McGuigan, centre Sam Johnson and lock Ben Toolis have been also brought in to face title-chasing England.

The injured trio of Tommy Seymour, Blair Kinghorn and Jamie Ritchie have dropped out, as has Peter Horne, with Josh Strauss and Jonny Gray moved to the bench.

Former first-choice captain and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw remains among the replacements, with hooker Stuart McInally continuing to lead the side and Ali Price again the starting No 9.

Scotland travel to Twickenham on a run of three straight defeats and have not beaten England there since 1983.

It is part of a dire record on the road that, excluding matches involving Italy, has yielded just two Scotland away wins since the advent of the Six as opposed to Five Nations in 2000 -- against Wales in 2002 and Ireland in 2010.

- 'Make pressure count' -

"First of all we have to build on the positive aspects of our performance from last weekend against Wales, when we were able to generate quick ball and build a lot of pressure on the opposition," said Townsend.

"The next step is making that pressure count on the scoreboard, more regularly."

The former Scotland playmaker added: "Winning away from home tends to be achieved through an outstanding defensive performance and we are determined to deliver that this Saturday. At times against Wales we weren't aggressive or accurate enough so that has been a focus for us this week in training."

England's hope of a Grand Slam ended with a defeat by Wales in Cardiff but they could yet be crowned champions if the Welsh stumble against Ireland in Cardiff before the Scots defend the Calcutta Cup they won with a shock 25-13 win at Murrayfield last season orchestrated by talented fly-half Finn Russell.

"England are a quality side and have been playing really well throughout the Championship," said Townsend.

"They have shown a different game plan this season which is built on power, both through direct ball carrying and also getting off the line in defence.

"They've kicked the ball more than any other team in the Guinness Six Nations, which has worked well for them and produced tries, and it also shows that they are more than comfortable defending for several phases."

Scotland have been beset by injuries this season but Townsend backed Watson to continue his good form against England.

"While it's tough on Jamie to miss this game through injury, we're delighted to bring back Hamish Watson into the starting line-up," Townsend said.

"He made a real impact on Saturday and we have no doubt that he's ready to take the game to the opposition in attack and defence."

Scotland (15-1)

Sean Maitland; Darcy Graham, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Byron McGuigan; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Sam Skinner; Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis; Willem Nel, Stuart McInally (capt), Allan Dell

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, Greig Laidlaw, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris