Scotland aim to avoid All Blacks

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Scotland and France, who meet at the Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening to decide the winner of Group D, have, for the most part, remained faithful to the players who appeared in the Five Nations' Championship.

The prize for winning the group has a lot more riding on it than pride and a determination to remain unbeaten. Both have already qualified for the quarter-finals, but the importance of victory on Saturday is that the winners will almost certainly avoid having to play New Zealand in the first quarter-final in Durban on Saturday week. Scotland do not need reminding that they have never beaten the All Blacks.

Yesterday, Scotland named the pack that emerged triumphant at the Parc des Princes last February, and the only changes are at centre. This was the area that provided the selectors with most food for thought. Gregor Townsend is, of course, nursing an injury at home, and the debate centred around choosing two from Scott Hastings, Graham Shiel, Tony Stanger and Ian Jardine; it was Hastings and Shiel who got the vote.

The selectors considered playing Stanger, who has scored three tries in his last two internationals at centre after switching from the right wing, in place of Craig Joiner. Although Stanger had told Scotland that he wanted to be considered as a centre and nothing else, the squad accepted that anybody would be prepared to play anywhere. Had Stanger stuck to his original calling, he would almost certainly have faced the French.

Scotland had planned a scrummaging session against the Northern Transvaal pack yesterday, but called it off so that some of the players could lick their wounds following the bruising encounter with Tonga.

France, who drew 20-20 with Scotland in Christchurch, New Zealand, during the first World Cup in 1987, make only three changes to the side beaten by the Scots in February. Emile N'Tamack comes in on the wing, Laurent Benezech at loose head prop, and Olivier Merle into the second row. Merle, who was lightly disciplined after butting the Wales prop Ricky Evans in the Five Nations, was on the bench for the Scotland match.

France, in victories over Tonga and Ivory Coast, have failed to impress thus far in South Africa, but Paterson said: "I wouldn't let that fool anybody. We are into the real stuff now.

"We tend to take our aggression out on restaurants," he continued, referring to "scurrilous" reports in local newspapers that Scottish players had trashed a Pretoria hostelry.

SCOTLAND (v France, Pretoria, Saturday): G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); C Joiner (Melrose), S Hastings (Watsonians), G Shiel (Melrose), K Logan (Stirling County); C Chalmers (Melrose), B Redpath (Melrose); D Hilton (Bath), K Milne (Heriots), P Wright (Boroughmuir), D Cronin (Bourges), D Weir (Melrose), R Wainwright (West Hartlepool), E Peters (Bath), I Morrison (London Scottish). Replacements: T Stanger (Hawick), I Jardine (Stirling County), D Patterson (West Hartlepool), S Campbell (Dundee HSFP), P Burnell (London Scottish), K McKenzie (Stirling County).

FRANCE: J-L Sadourny (Colomiers); E N'Tamack (Toulouse), P Sella (Agen), T Lacroix (Dax), P Saint-Andre (Montferrand, capt); C Deylaud (Toulouse), G Accoceberry (Begles-Bordeaux); L Benezech (Racing), J-M Gonzalez (Bayonne), C Califano (Toulouse), O Merle (Montferrand), O Roumat (Dax), A Benazzi (Agen), P Benetton (Agen), L Cabannes (Racing). Replacements: F Mesnel (Racing), Y Delaigue (Toulon), A Hueber (Toulon), M Cecillon (Bourgoin), P Gallart (Beziers), L Armary (Lourdes).