Scotland Team for Tonga

Scotland have made five changes in personnel from the team that started against South Africa for Saturday’s EMC Test against Tonga in Aberdeen.

Head coach Andy Robinson has also made four changes on the bench as Scotland seek to protect their 100% winning record at their northern citadel in front of an expected capacity crowd.

The changes in the team see Max Evans return at outside centre to the stadium where he won his first cap four years ago. He replaces Nick De Luca who is on the bench.

Henry Pyrgos (pictured), who scored Scotland’s try against South Africa last weekend, is handed the starting jersey at scrum-half for the first time instead of Mike Blair, while Scott Lawson will begin his first international since August 2011 at hooker rather than Ross Ford.

At lock, Alastair Kellock gets the nod over Jim Hamilton to win his 47th cap, while in the back-row Alasdair Strokosch is restored from the calf injury that prevented his involvement against the Springboks.

On the bench the uncapped Edinburgh Rugby lock Grant Gilchrist – a recipient of the 2011 John MacPhail Scholarship – is nominated in a Scotland match-day 23 for the first time, as is the uncapped 20-year-old Bath Rugby stand-off Tom Heathcote.

At the other end of the experience scale, substitute scrum-half Rory Lawson is back on Scotland duty for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup match against Argentina.

Robinson said: “We will not be among the top eight seeds for the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw, so this weekend I’m looking at giving a number of players an opportunity to put their hand up for selection for next year.

“This weekend we have to put together an 80 minutes performance and build on the positive parts of our games that we showed in the last 30 minutes against South Africa and the second half against New Zealand.

“International rugby is about pressure and it’s important that you convert your pressure into points and when you are under pressure that you are able to absorb it as opposed to conceding points as cheaply as we have done.”

Robinson noted that Tonga have selected a strong side and praised the support from Scotland fans this month.

“It’s great we are here in Aberdeen and that there’s likely to be a sell-out crowd.  Thanks to all supporters for their backing.  The atmosphere at Murrayfield over the last fortnight has been the best that I’ve seen.”

Scotland team (sponsor RBS) to play Tonga in the EMC Test at Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen on Saturday 24 November, kick-off 3pm

15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 9 caps, 1 try, 5 points

14 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) 70 caps, 8 tries, 40 points
13 Max Evans (Castres) 31 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) 6 caps
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) 4 caps, 4 tries, 20 points

10 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) 12 caps, 2 tries, 11 conversions, 17 penalties, 83 points
9 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps, 1 try, 5 points

1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
2 Scott Lawson (London Irish) 35 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors) 48 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
4 Richie Gray (Sale Sharks) 26 caps, 1 try, 5 points
5 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) 46 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) 29 caps, 1 try, 5 points
7 Kelly Brown (Saracens) CAPTAIN 51 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
8 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) 8 caps

Substitutes

16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors) 38 caps, 1 try, 5 points
17 Kyle Traynor (Bristol Rugby) 3 caps
18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps, 1 try, 5 points
19 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) uncapped
20 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors) 40 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
21 Rory Lawson (Newcastle Falcons) 30 caps
22 Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby) uncapped
23 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby) 37 caps, 1 try, 5 points

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France).  Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland) and Marius Mitrea (Italy). TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales).

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6 comments on “Scotland Team for Tonga

  1. Cameron NZ on

    I think this should have been the team for the first two test. Denton got a bit of a fright last week, so hopefully he steps up to his ability.

    If Pyrgos plays like he did last week, then surely thats his foot in to start for the 6 nations.

  2. Callum on

    Still not sure about Brown at 7 but I will hold judgement until after the match as that man seems to be able to do everything.
    Glad Evens is getting a proper go, lets just hope his defence holds up, I do think him and scott will produce line breaks though. Not sure about Grey starting, he better be 100% fit, would like to see an apperence from gilchrist. Nice to see AR giving the youngters a chance though.

    Looking forward to seeing the new 10 we have, never really herd of him so can anyone tell me anything about him?

    Lastly I do love the caps to try ratio throught are team, it is so poor but then you get to visser and BAM!

  3. Phoenix on

    Not a bad team but I was hoping that Robinson would have used this opportunity to bleed a few other guys. It seams quite strange for Murchie to be deemed good enough for the bench against South Africa and then drop out completely. Maybe Dunbar and Seymour also? See what they can do. I just feel that we have seen Max Evans before. Still should be good to see what this new 10 can do. And as ever, 20 minutes of sheer passion from Girth.

  4. Cameron Black on

    It’s an odd selection in many respects. On the one hand it’s great to see new faces getting a run out but we can’t fall further in the rankings so why not go further and give the likes of McInally and Fusaro a run out too?
    We seem to have quite a bit of competition for places accross the board now but I still think we’re thin in terms of hooker. Fordy can be patchy with his throwing but he’s far superior in the loose compared with Lawson and Hall. I suspect he’s been dropped just to give the other two some game time but I can’t see anyone that’s genuninely pushing for the number 2 jersey.

  5. MJW on

    MacArthur will push Ford for the 2 jersey, he’s a very good player. Such a pity that he’s been injured for most of this season.

  6. Dodge on

    Glad to see Ford dropped at last, maybe that will be the jolt he needs in order to improve.
    Still a bit of a mixed bag in terms of selection, Brown at 7 seems odd but you never know.
    Nothing against Kellock, but would it not have been more beneficial in the longer term to have someone like McKenzie or Ryder in there?
    Will be interested to see if Heathcote does come on who it will be for i.e. will he replace Pyrgos thus allowing Laidlaw to play scrum half….

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