Scotland make four changes for crucial Tonga clash

Head coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes in total to his starting line-up for the must-win encounter in Nice

Anthony Brown
Friday 22 September 2023 11:21 BST
Rory Sutherland in training for Scotland (David Davies/PA))
Rory Sutherland in training for Scotland (David Davies/PA)) (PA Wire)

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes for the game in Nice, which the side must win if they want to keep alive hopes of a quarter-final place.

Winger Kyle Steyn joins Scotland’s starting lineup for the Rugby World Cup Pool B clash with Tonga on Sunday, hoping for a repeat of the happy memories of the last time he played the Pacific islanders.

Steyn, who scored four tries when Scotland beat Tonga 61-14 in a friendly in November 2021, replaces Darcy Graham following the 18-3 loss to South Africa in Scotland’s group opener.

Chris Harris comes in at centre in the place of Huw Jones but will wear the number 13 jersey, with Sione Tuipulotu moving to 12, while Scott Cummings takes over from Grant Gilchrist at lock.

In the other change, prop Rory Sutherland stands in for Pierre Schoeman.

“We have to impose our game-plan and our fitness on Tonga, and show our skills in the final quarter of the match,” Townsend said. “They are strong at the breakdown and we know they are going to be a massively physical threat at the set-piece.”

Steyn is part of a back three with fellow South African-born winger Duhan van der Merwe and fullback Blair Kinghorn, while the mercurial Finn Russell will lead the backline from flyhalf. Ben White keeps his place in the number nine jersey.

George Horne replaces Ali Price on the bench as the back-up scrumhalf and along with Jones and Graham is one of three backline options among the replacements.

George Turner is at hooker and will have Sutherland and Zander Fagerson either side of him in the front row of the scrum, while Richie Gray keeps his place to start at lock alongside Cummings.

Captain Jamie Ritchie is at flanker with Rory Darge, and number eight Jack Dempsey is the final member of the back row.

Scotland have won four of their five previous meetings with Tonga, all by more than 20 points, but were beaten 21-15 in Aberdeen in 2012.

Scotland team to face Tonga

15-Blair Kinghorn, 14-Kyle Steyn, 13-Chris Harris, 12-Sione Tuipulotu, 11-Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Ben White, 8-Jack Dempsey, 7-Rory Darge, 6-Jamie Ritchie (capt.), 5-Scott Cummings, 4-Richie Gray, 3-Zander Fagerson, 2-George Turner, 1-Rory Sutherland

Replacements: 16-Ewan Ashman, 17- Pierre Schoeman, 18-WP Nel, 19-Sam Skinner, 20-Matt Fagerson, 21-George Horne, 22-Huw Jones, 23-Darcy Graham.

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