Trying times in Scottish Rugby as Cross drops to bench

BORDERS prop Geoff Cross has been dropped to the bench for Saturday’s EMC Test against South Africa at Murrayfield despite scoring his first try for his country against the mighty All Blacks on Sunday.

Scotland have made two changes from their starting XV and a further four alterations to their bench.

Euan Murray will replace Gala man Cross at tight-head having missed the New Zealand game due to his religious observance.

Elsewhere in the pack Ross Ford (Kelso) and Kelly Brown (Melrose) have retained their places. Stuart Hogg (Hawick) and Greig Laidlaw (Jed-Forest) also appear in Andy Robinson’s starting line up.

Edinburgh Rugby’s David Denton, who replaced the injured Ross Rennie against New Zealand, retains his berth in the back-row.

On the bench, Dougie Hall, whose most recent cap was in the Rugby World Cup pool match against Argentina in Wellington last year, is preferred to Scott Lawson; and Cross takes the place of his Edinburgh colleague Allan Jacobsen, who is unavailable for personal reasons.

The experienced John Barclay returns to the match-day squad and there’s a first involvement in a Scotland 23 for Barclay’s Glasgow Warriors’ team-mate, the uncapped 26-year-old Peter Murchie who is nominated instead of Max Evans.

Robinson said: “We know we’re in for a bruising battle against South Africa this weekend and we will be primed for that physical confrontation.

“But we also have to be smart in how we approach this game and do our utmost to ensure we get on the front foot and get the result that will move us into the top eight in the IRB world rankings ahead of next month’s 2015 Rugby World Cup draw.”

RBS Scotland team to play South Africa in the EMC Test at Murrayfield on (kick-off 2.30pm): Stuart Hogg; Sean Lamont, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Greig Laidlaw, Mike Blair; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Alasdair Strokosch, Kelly Brown, David Denton. Subs: Dougie Hall, Kyle Traynor, Geoff Cross, Alastair Kellock, John Barclay, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Peter Murchie.