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, 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
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).
You can still buy tickets online at www.scottishrugby.org; via the 24-hour credit card hotline 0844 335 3933 or in person from the Scottish Rugby ticket centre at Murrayfield Stadium which is open 9am-5pm, Mondays to Fridays or from the Aberdeen FC ticket office which is open at the same times. The ticket office is at the side of the Richard Donald Stand behind the club shop.
Scotland v Tonga, Saturday 24 November, Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, kick-off 3pm
Adults: £15, £25 and £40
Under-18s and students: £7.50, £12.50 and £20
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