The Scotland squad swapped the warmth and blue sky of Saint-Etienne yesterday for the cold and wet of home. Frank Hadden, Scotland's head coach, hopes the Caledonian leg of his party's World Cup campaign does not prove to be a damp squib, with only 23,000 tickets sold at the last count for the match against Romania at the 67,500-capacity Murrayfield tomorrow night.
"We've seen the excitement generated over in France," Hadden said. "We desperately want to sustain that."
Sustaining winning momentum is Scotland's prime objective and they have made five changes to the starting XV from their opening game, a 56-10 win against Portugal eight days ago. Gavin Kerr and Ross Ford come into the front row, Jim Hamilton replaces Scott Murray in the second row, Simon Webster switches from the left wing for his first start at outside centre and Chris Paterson fills the vacancy out wide, rather than replacing Dan Parks at outside-half.
Paterson wore the No 10 jersey in Scotland's two warm-up matches but has seemingly slipped back behind Parks in the pecking order for the pivotal role. "I'm just happy to be on the pitch," he said. "I'm sure I'll get some game time at 10. The main thing is that we are sharper as a team than we were against Portugal. We'll need to be."
Stephen Larkham will be available forthe knockout stages after knee surgery yesterday. There were fears the Australia fly-half might miss the rest of the tournament after his knee locked up in practice on Friday, but the Wallaby coach, John Connolly, said the operation had been a success.
"As Martin Raftery, our doctor, thought there was a just bit of loose material in there, a bit of muck," he said. "They cleaned that out and Stephen will be available for a semi-final and maybe a quarter-final, if we get there."
Scotland: R Lamont (Sale); S Lamont (Northampton), S Webster (Edinburgh), R Dewey (Ulster), C Paterson (Gloucester); D Parks (Glasgow), M Blair (Edinburgh); G Kerr (Edinburgh), R Ford (Glasgow), E Murray (Northampton), N Hines (Perpignan) J Hamilton (Leicester), J White (Sale, capt), A Hogg (Edinburgh), S Taylor (Stade Français). Replacements: S Lawson (Sale), C Smith (Edinburgh), S MacLeod (Llanelli), K Brown (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Perpignan), H Southwell (Edinburgh), N Walker (Ospreys).Reuse content