Smith rings changes for English Counties debut

Scotland Club XV coach Phil Smith has made four changes to his starting team to play English Counties tomorrow night (Friday 27 February) at Fylde Rugby Club near Blackpool (kick-off 7.30pm). 

Ayr's Fergus Scott starts at hookerIn the pack, Ayr hooker Fergus Scott will start in the front-row in place of Gala’s Russell Anderson who drops to the bench and Ewan McQuillin will start at tighthead prop, replacing Struan Cessford. 

Melrose back-row Peter Eccles will pull on the openside flanker jersey to replace Will Bordill and, in the backs, Chris Auld steps up from the bench to replace Ross Curle in the centre.

Currie back-row Malcolm Peacock, Ayr prop Fraser Watt and Heriot’s full-back Keith Buchan are named on the bench for the first time and could win their first caps if they are to come on.

Currie number 8 Ross Weston will captain the team. 

Smith said: “We picked a small group of players initially with the thought in mind that everyone in our match-day squad could start a game and today’s changes reflect that.

“For this game, we have gone with a heavier starting pack than we did against Ireland.

Our hope is that we can cope with England’s size, then later in the game we can bring in the Russell Andersons, Shawn Muirs, Gregor Mcneishs and George Grahams to add a spark and add value to what we’re doing. 

“Ross Weston is our most experienced and capped player, he is not a loud guy, but he leads by example, which we saw against Ireland and the match against the under-20s. 

“He gets his head down and says, “follow me”, which the boys will do.” 

Tomorrow’s match will be the first time Scotland Club XV will meet English Counties and having won the Dalriada Cup earlier this month, the Scots will be aiming to record two wins from two, from their 2015 fixture list, a feat they haven’t achieved before. 

Smith continued: “I’ll be stressing to the players by winning the first game they have opened the door to do the double for the first time ever, which is a massive opportunity to make some history.

We have to get into the game from the outset and put ourselves in a position to win early on.

“What we know of our opponents is that they are typically English with a strong set piece. But, we have picked a team we believe can cope with that, and as long as we play to our game plan we have a chance.”

Scotland Club XV team to play English Counties at Fylde Rugby Club on Friday 28 February (kick-off 7.30pm):

15 Fraser Thomson (Melrose)

 

14 Craig Gossman (Ayr)

13 Liam Steele (Heriot’s)

12 Chris Auld (Gala)**

11 Scott McLeod (Hawick)

 

10 Stuart Edwards (Heriot’s)

9 Graham Wilson (Heriot’s) VICE-CAPTAIN

 

1 Nick Beavon (Melrose)

2 Fergus Scott (Ayr)**

3 Ewan McQuillin (Melrose)

4 Russell Nimmo (Heriot’s)

5 Iain Moody (Boroughmuir)

6 Jason Hill (Heriot’s)

7 Peter Eccles (Melrose)

8 Ross Weston (Currie) CAPTAIN

 

Replacements:

16 Russell Anderson (Gala)

17 Fraser Watt (Ayr)*

18 Shawn Muir (Hawick)*

19 Malcolm Peacock (Currie)*

20 George Graham (Gala)

21 Gregor McNeish (Heriot’s)*

23 Keith Buchan (Heriot’s)*

  

* Denotes debutant

** Denotes BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Stage 3 Player 2014/15