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Preview: Scotland v Russia

Preview: Scotland v Russia

Adam Hastings will make his first start of the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday (Inpho)

  • Scotland need a bonus-point win to advance their quarter-final cause
  • Japan lie in wait on Sunday in Yokohama
  • Townsend has made 14 changes for Scotland's first-ever Test meeting with Russia

Scotland and Russia have never met before in a Test match.

But in Shizuoka on Wednesday, there is far more than just history on the line for Gregor Townsend’s men.

Nothing short of a bonus point will suffice for his side as they keep fighting for a potential quarter-final berth.

Sunday’s clash with Japan in Yokohama looms large, but Scotland cannot afford to take their eyes off the prize.

Russia may have lost all four of their previous RWC encounters against current Tier 1 sides, conceding 55 points on average.

But they have shown this World Cup that they can trouble the best, it took both Japan and Ireland over an hour to secure the bonus point.

And this is a Scotland side showing 14 changes from the win over Samoa last time out.

Only Darcy Graham on the wing remains, that means a youthful half-back pairing of George Horne and Adam Hastings and hooker Fraser Brown deputising on the openside flank.

There is an experienced spine to the side still, John Barclay captains and is joined in the back row by Ryan Wilson while Tommy Seymour and Peter Horne are in the outside backs alongside Graham, Blair Kinghorn and Duncan Taylor.

Russia meanwhile have changed nine players, the same as they did for their previous defeat against Ireland.

But Kirill Gotovtsev, Tagir Gadzhiev, German Davydov and Vasily Artemyev have been selected by Russia to start all four matches at Rugby World Cup 2019.

Typhoon Hagibis might still have a say, but as long as the weather holds firm Scotland should win on Wednesday.

Then the focus will come onto securing the four tries and a bonus point that makes Sunday’s short turnaround to Yokohama all the more fascinating.

Scotland v Russia, Shizuoka, Wednesday October 9, Kick-off 8:15AM (BST)

What they said

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend: “First and foremost we’ve picked a team we believe is capable of defeating an increasingly impressive and combative Russia side, who are looking to finish their Pool campaign on a high.

“Any successful World Cup campaign is built on a squad effort and those players who didn’t get the opportunity to start against Samoa really helped provide that team with a quality week of preparation.

“Now it’s their chance to get stuck into our next important game.”

Russia head coach Lyn Jones: “We appreciate how difficult a victory would be but Scottish people are not different from everybody else, they are human beings who are fallible when put under pressure. It’s for us just to bring a little bit extra to our game, which is what we will do after at training.”

Key battle: Fraser Brown v Tagir Gadzhiev

A hooker by trade, Fraser Brown is not a total novice in the back row either.

He has started a summer Test there against Argentina and played much of their World Cup opener against Ireland there after coming on for the injured Hamish Watson.

But the Glasgow Warrior will not have it all his own way on Wednesday against one of Russia’s stars of the tournament.

Tagir Gadzhiev has turned heads all month with his fierce tackling and hard carrying, as well as his mixed zone swagger.

John Barclay and Ryan Wilson provide the experience alongside Brown in the back row, but the trio will have their work cut out to contain the Russian bear.

Match Notes

  • Scotland have made 14 changes to the XV that started against Samoa last week. Only Darcy Graham remains. This is the most changes they have ever made between matches at a Rugby World Cup.
  • The last time John Barclay captained Scotland was in the 2018 Championship against Italy. He scored a try in that match.
  • Russia are looking for their first victory at the Rugby World Cup. Only Namibia (22) have played more matches at the Rugby World Cup without ever winning.
  • Russia have lost their six World Cup matches by an average margin of 31 points.
  • The nine changes made by Russia to the starting XV are a record for the Bears in their World Cup history, equalling the nine made for the match against Ireland.
  • Kirill Gotovtsev, Tagir Gadzhiev, German Davydov and Vasily Artemyev have been selected by Russia to start all four matches at Rugby World Cup 2019.
  • Vasily Artemyev and Vladimir Ostrushko both start and Andrey Garbuzov could come off the bench to become the only three players making an eighth RWC appearance for Russia. The trio also played all four of Russia’s matches at RWC 2011.

Teams

Scotland: Blair Kinghorn; Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Peter Horne, Darcy Graham; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Gordon Reid, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ben Toolis, John Barclay, Fraser Brown, Ryan Wilson.

Replacements: Stuart Mcinally, Simon Berghan, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Henry Pyrgos,  Chris Harris.

Russia: Vasily Artemyev; German Davydov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Dmitry Gerasimov, Vladislav Sozonov; Ramil Gaisin, Dmitry Perov; Valery Morozov, Stanislav Selskii, Kirill Gotovtsev; Andrey Ostrikov, Evgeny Elgin; Vitaly Zhivatov, Tagir Gadzhiev, Nikita Vavilin.

Replacements: Sergey Chernyshev, Azamat Bitiev, Vladimir Podrezov, Bogdan Fedotko, Andrey Garbuzov, Sergey Ianiushkin, Anton Sychev, Yury Kushnarev