Scotland ring the changes
September 28, 2011
Al Kellock returns to the Scotland second row for the showdown with England at Eden park © PA Photos
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson has made six changes and one positional switch for Saturday's must-win Rugby World Cup Pool B clash with England.
Second row Alastair Kellock returns as captain, Euan Murray is to start at tight-head prop, Richie Vernon at No.8, Mike Blair at scrum-half, Simon Danielli on the wing and Joe Ansbro at outside centre, while Sean Lamont moves to inside centre. Out go Jim Hamilton, Geoff Cross, Kelly Brown, Rory Lawson, Graeme Morrison and Nick De Luca, who has dropped to the replacements' bench.
Brown was unavailable after suffering concussion in the 13-12 loss to Argentina, which means Scotland must beat England by a margin of eight points - thus denying their rivals a losing bonus point - to advance to the quarter-finals. Scotland last beat England by eight or more points in 1986.
In the 25 years since, Scotland have won four times - in 1990, 2000, 2006 and 2008 - all by a six-point margin and all at Murrayfield. There are many permutations, with England, Scotland and Argentina, who play Georgia on Sunday, all in contention to advance to the last eight.
Robinson said: "The stage is set for what I am sure will be an occasion worthy of everything this fixture means to both countries and their supporters. The atmosphere in Wellington last weekend was exceptional but I believe at a sell-out Eden Park on Saturday it would be even better. What this weekend is about once again though is doing everything we can to win a Test match and qualify for the knockout matches."
Kellock was omitted from the team to play the Pumas, despite being named tournament captain in August and comes in for Hamilton, who has been struggling with a knee injury. Now scrum-half Lawson, the captain against Georgia and Argentina, must face up to being outside the matchday 22, with Blair preferred for the Edinburgh number nine to win his 75th cap.
Vernon replaces Brown at the back of the scrum and Murray, who performed well against Georgia, is back in for Cross in the front row after being unavailable last Sunday's match in Wellington due to his religious beliefs. Behind the scrum Lamont switches from the wing to inside centre, where Morrison makes way. Danielli takes Lamont's place on the wing, with Ansbro joining the Scarlets back in the midfield and De Luca making way.
It is the same centre partnership Scotland played against England at Twickenham in the 22-16 Six Nations loss in March.
Scotland: C Paterson (Edinburgh); M Evans (Castres), J Ansbro (London Irish), S Lamont (Scarlets), S Danielli (Ulster); R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), M Blair (Edinburgh); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Newcastle Falcons), R Gray (Glasgow Warriors), A Kellock (capt, Glasgow Warriors), A Strokosch (Gloucester), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), R Vernon (Sale Sharks).
Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), A Dickinson (Sale Sharks), N Hines (Clermont Auvergne), R Rennie (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), D Parks (Cardiff Blues), N De Luca (Edinburgh).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape
Move over, Castro - from falling off a chair to stepping off the team bus, Scrum Sevens recounts some of the strangest rugby injuries ever
Martin Gillingham on the latest from France and why the national side can learn a thing or two from Top 14 side Bordeaux Begles