Pyrgos starts for Scotland

 Nov 21,2012
Written by: Editor

Scotland coach Andy Robinson has made five changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Test against Tonga in Aberdeen.

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 run-on team sees 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, who scored Scotland's try in their 21-10 loss to 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 lock Grant Gilchrist is nominated in a Scotland match-day 23 for the first time, as is the uncapped 20-year-old Bath fly-half 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 World Cup match against Argentina.

"We will not be among the top eight seeds for the 2015 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," said Robinson.

"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."

Meanwhile, Tonga have made one change to the starting XV that beat the USA last weekend for Saturday's Testat Pittodrie.

Northland flank Hale T-Pole replaces Leicester Tigers' Steve Mafi in the back row.

Uncapped Marist Tonga prop Kamaliele Sakalia is among the replacements with Perpignan strongman Kisi Pulu falling out of the matchday 23.

Former Glasgow Warriors number eight Viliami Ma'afu retains his place in the starting XV.

The 30-year-old, was released by Warriors in September, with Ma'fu citing personal reasons for his decision to depart Scotstoun as his place in the squad was taken by South African Josh Strauss.

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 (c), 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.

Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Fetu'u Vainakolo , 13 Sukanaivalu Hufanga, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Viliami Helu, 10 Fangatapu Apikotoa, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Nili Latu (capt), 6 Hale T-Pole, 5 Lua Lokotui, 4 Joseph Tuineau, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Alisona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Ilaisa Ma'asi, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Kamaliele Sakalia, 19 Sitiveni Mafi, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Viliame 'longi, 22 Eddie Paea, 23 Alipate Fatafehi.

Date: Saturday 24 November
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 15:00
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland) and Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Television match official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)


Tags: International |  Scotland | 

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