Rugby-Kinghorn returns to bolster Scotland for England battle

  • Rugby
  • Thursday, 22 Feb 2024

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v Italy - Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain - March 18, 2023 Scotland's Blair Kinghorn scores their fourth try Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith/ File photo

(Reuters) - Scotland fullback Blair Kinghorn and wing Kyle Steyn return to the starting lineup to face England in the Six Nations clash at Murrayfield on Saturday, providing a significant boost to a backline marshalled by mercurial flyhalf Finn Russell.

Kinghorn missed their first two championship games – a narrow win in Wales and controversial home loss to France – with a knee injury, forcing coach Gregor Townsend to play regular wing Kyle Rowe and uncapped Harry Paterson at number 15.

Following the retirement of Stuart Hogg last year, Kinghorn, who has 50 caps, has been a stand-out performer for the Scots and the experience of the Toulouse back is a big boost for Townsend.

"We delighted he is back involved, he has been a key player for us in the last couple of seasons," Townsend said.

Steyn pulled out of the match against France on the day after his wife went into labour, and will partner fellow wing Duhan van der Merwe and Kinghorn in a potent back three that will provide plenty of threat to the visitors.

Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones retain their centre partnership, while co-captain Russell is alongside scrumhalf Ben White, who has been in outstanding form this season.

There is one switch in the forwards as former skipper Jamie Ritchie returns to the side of the scrum. He forms a back row with co-captain Rory Darge and number eight Jack Dempsey.

"Jamie has been a very good player for us, he has responded really well to not being in the team," Townsend said. "We feel the breakdown will be an important area for the outcome of the match and to have Jamie and Rory putting pressure on England and providing us go-forward with ball in hand (is important).

Hooker George Turner packs down with props Pierre Schoeman and Zander Fagerson either side of him, while Grant Gilchrist and Scott Cummings make up the second row as Scotland seek a fourth successive victory over old foes England in the championship for the first time since 1896.

"The players know this is a huge game for us in terms of the championship, but also as a one-off game. We have to produce a better performance than our first two matches," Townsend said.

"It is being about staying together, being calm and delivering what we know these players are capable of."

Scotland team:

15-Blair Kinghorn, 14-Kyle Steyn, 13-Huw Jones, 12-Sione Tuipulotu, 11-Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Ben White; 1-Pierre Schoeman, 2-George Turner, 3-Zander Fagerson, 4-Grant Gilchrist, 5-Scott Cummings, 6-Jamie Ritchie, 7-Rory Darge, 8-Jack Dempsey

Replacements: 16-Ewan Ashman, 17-Alec Hepburn, 18-Elliot Millar-Mills, 19-Sam Skinner, 20-Andy Christie, 21-George Horne, 22-Ben Healy, 23-Cameron Redpath

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)

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