Finn Russell in Scotland team to play Samoa

Finn Russell has recovered from an ankle injury and will start against Samoa as Scotland seek to book their place in the World Cup quarter-finals.   Picture: Ian Rutherford

Finn Russell has recovered from an ankle injury and will start against Samoa as Scotland seek to book their place in the World Cup quarter-finals. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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FINN Russell is back in the Scotland team for Saturday’s decisive Rugby World Cup match against Samoa in Newcastle.

The stand-off has recovered from an ankle that caused him to miss last weekend’s defeat by South Africa and replaces Duncan Weir who drops out of the match-day squad.

The influential Russell – who was injured in the win over the United States – is one of seven changes made by Scotland coach Vern Cotter.

John Hardie returns at openside flanker having passed the concussion protocols. He is joined in the back row by Ryan Wilson and No 8 David Denton. Josh Strauss drops to the bench.

In the front row, Alasdair Dickinson and Ross Ford join Willem Nel in an all-Edinburgh trio.

Mark Bennett is picked at outside centre in place of Richie Vernon and will partner Matt Scott in the midfield.

Sean Maitland comes in for Tim Visser on the left wing.

A win for Scotland will seal second place in Pool B and set up a quarter-final against either Wales or Australia at Twickenham a week on Sunday.

Defeat would leave the Scots sweating on Japan’s match against the USA on Sunday. The Japanese could still pip the Scots for second place.

Lock Richie Gray will win his 50th cap on Saturday, while Sean Lamont could win his 100th if he comes off the bench.

Cotter said: “Every Test match is a ‘must-win’ when you represent your country.

“We’ve put in a huge amount of work to get us to this point, and our performances and commitment have put us in a position to qualify for the last eight.

“We’ll need to be up to the challenge, enjoy the opportunity, and maintain the awareness needed to play to our strengths and impose our game.”

Scotland team to face Samoa (Saturday, St James’ Park, 2.30pm)

15 Stuart Hogg

14 Tommy Seymour

13 Mark Bennett

12 Matt Scott

11 Sean Maitland

10 Finn Russell

9 Greig Laidlaw, capt

1 Al Dickinson

2 Ross Ford

3 WP Nel

4 Richie Gray

5 Jonny Gray

6 Ryan Wilson

7 John Hardie

8 David Denton

SUBS

16 Fraser Brown

17 Gordon Reid

18 Jon Welsh

19 Tim Swinson

20 Josh Strauss

21 Henry Pyrgos

22 Peter Horne

23 Sean Lamont

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