Bennett takes centre stage against Georgia

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 14:03

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Mark Bennett will make his first Scotland appearance since starring for Great Britain's silver medal-winning Olympic Sevens team in Saturday's clash with Georgia, head coach Vern Cotter announced on Thursday.

The Glasgow centre comes back in for the encounter at Kilmarnock's Rugby Park after missing Scotland's narrow 22-23 loss to Australia and last-gasp 19-16 win over Argentina.

Cotter has made five changes from last weekend's win over Argentina, with Bennett, hooker Ross Ford, lock Richie Gray and back-row pair Rob Harley and Marcus Bradbury coming into the team.

"We've learned a lot from our previous Tests against Australia and Argentina and that's what these games are about - learning what worked and what didn't and making sure we improve with every game," said Cotter.

"Knowledge gained from our one-point loss to Australia and 83rd-minute victory over Argentina will be important in negotiating Saturday's game in the best way possible to get the win we want.

"Georgia are striving to be among the world's best as they knock on the door of the top 10 in the world rankings.

"We are expecting a typical Georgian game. They will be physical up front as they play a forwards-based game. However, they are also developing their backs."

Huw Jones, Fraser Brown, Grant Gilchrist, Ryan Wilson and John Barclay are the players to make way for what will be Scotland's last match of 2016.

It will be Scotland's second match at Rugby Park, home of Scottish football club Kilmarnock, and first since a 37-12 win over Tonga in November 2014.

"Our players are excited to be back in Kilmarnock and having the west country supporting us like they did two years ago will be great," Cotter added in a Scottish Rugby press release.

"The crowd's enthusiasm will be key to getting a good performance against Georgia. The players feed off the energy from the stands. It's one of these tangible things and really does help spur on the guys."

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Alex Allan, Moray Low, Grant Gilchrist, John Barclay, Ali Price, Pete Horne, Rory Hughes.

Date: Saturday, November 26
Venue: Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30; 18.30 GET)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Dan Jones (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Agence France-Presse