The old adage about not changing a winning team has undoubtedly come into play and it will be fascinating to see if Scotland’s first defeat of the championship will change his thinking when he names his side on Friday to play leaders Ireland. Not that there was anything too shabby about the performance in Paris.
Townsend has picked the same backline for all three games and has been rewarded with a healthy 12 tries, ten of which have come from the backs. It is hard to see where he would change it for Sunday’s match at Murrayfield. The game has come too early for winger Darcy Graham who is still recovering from a knee injury.
After beating England on the opening weekend, Townsend made one change to his pack for the round 2 fixture against Wales, bringing back tighthead prop Zander Fagerson for WP Nel after the former completed his recovery from a hamstring tear. It was a similar story for the match against France, with the fit-again Hamish Watson stepping in to replace Luke Crosbie.
One change has been forced upon Townsend this time, as Grant Gilchrist’s red card at the Stade de France has led to a two-game suspension for the lock. Jonny Gray stepped off the bench to fill the second-row void in Paris, with Watson sacrificed, and the Exeter man will be favourite to start against Ireland, partnering older brother Richie. Other options are Sam Skinner, who played the final 10 minutes against France, and Scott Cummings, who was called up this week after missing Scotland’s last seven matches due to a foot injury. If Townsend goes with the same 6-2 forwards to backs split on the bench, the likelihood is that Skinner and Cummings will both be among the replacements.
The other point of interest among the substitutes is at scrum-half. George Horne was understudy to Ben White for the first two games but Ali Price was given the role against France. Neither did anything wrong and it’s a toss-up between the more dynamic Horne, who also offers an option as a place-kicker, and the more experienced Price who has great game management skills.