KELSO’S Ross Ford has been dropped from Andy Robinson’s team ahead of theis weekends EMC Test against Tonga in Aberdeen.
The Scotland coach has made five changes in personnel from the team that started against South Africa last week as well as 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.
Ford’s fellow borderers Graham Hogg (Hawick), Greig Laidlaw (Jed-Forest) and Kelly Brown (Melrose) retain their places while once again Geoff Cross (Gala) is on the bench.
The changes in the team sees Max Evans return at outside centre, Henry Pyrgos at scrum-half in place of Mike Blair who moves to the bench, Scott Lawson replaces Ford, Alastair Kellock at lock and Alasdair Strokosch returns to the back row.
On the bench Grant Gilchrist and Tom Heathcote make their first starts while Rory Lawson is back on Scotland duty for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
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.”
Scotland team to play Tonga at Pittodrie Stadium on Saturday (3pm): Stuart Hogg; Sean Lamont, Max Evans, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Greig Laidlaw, Henry Pyrgos; Ryan Grant, Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Alastair Kellock, Alasdair Strokosch, Kelly Brown, David Denton. Subs: Dougie Hall, Kyle Traynor, Geoff Cross; Grant Gilchrist, John Barclay, Rory Lawson, Tom Heathcote, Nick De Luca.