Pyrgos in changed Scottish team
Wed, 21 Nov 2012 14:04
I'm looking at selection for next year
Scotland have made five changes from the team that started against South Africa last week, for this coming Saturday's Test against Tonga in Aberdeen.
Head coach Andy Robinson has also made four changes on the bench, as Scotland seek to protect their 100 percent 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 in the stadium where he won his first cap four years ago. He replaces Nick De Luca who is on the bench.
Henry Pyrgos, who scored Scotland's only try against South Africa last weekend, is handed the starting jersey at scrumhalf 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 to the starting XV after a calf injury prevented his involvement against the Springboks.
On the bench the uncapped Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist is nominated in a Scotland matchday 23 for the first time, as is the uncapped 20-year-old Bath flyhalf Tom Heathcote.
At the other end of the experience scale, substitute scrumhalf Rory Lawson is back on Scotland duty for the first time since the 2011 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: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Max Evans, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 David Denton, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 John Barclay, 21 Rory Lawson, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Nick De Luca.
Date: Saturday, November 24
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Kick-off: 15.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland) and Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
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