Robinson makes three Scotland changes for Samoa

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson has made three changes to his team to face Samoa in their final Test of their summer tour of the South Pacific.


No 8 Richie Vernon returns to the Scotland starting line-up for the first time since the Rugby World Cup pool match against England last year replacing John Barclay who has returned home ahead of his wedding.


Sean Lamont’s physicality has won him the nod over Max Evans on the wing, while Chris Cusiter, who has made an explosive contribution off the bench in his last two matches, will start instead of Mike Blair at scrum-half.


Should Scotland win the match it will be the first time that they have won all three Tests on a tour of the southern hemisphere and Apia would be a fitting place to secure that achievement in the first Test visit of a Tier One nation to Samoa since 2003.


“That’s something we are striving for,” Robinson acknowledged. “It’s our next Test match. We have to focus on winning each Test and we go into Saturday with confidence that we can take on a strong Samoan side.”


Samoa arrived home on Tuesday afternoon local time from Japan where they collected the Pacific Nations Cup, sealed with a 27-26 victory against the hosts in Tokyo on Sunday. Robinson is impressed by their ball-carriers and believes they have the capacity to mix power with flair.


“You just have to look at what happened two years ago when we were at home. On the back of beating South Africa and in conditions that were utterly alien for the Samoans (snow and freezing temperatures) we were drawing 16 all with one minute to go at Pittodrie and we were lucky enough to get a penalty to win the game,” he recalled.


Lamont, who will return for his 68th cap, has reason to remember games against Samoa. Back in Wellington in 2004, he won his first cap against the Pacific islanders and then the game in Aberdeen in 2010 was his 50th cap.


“I quite enjoy playing against island teams. I like the big hitters, they are very physical. It’s great to test yourself in that sort of sense,” he said.


The bench will be confirmed later this week. Meanwhile, South African referee Jaco Peyper will control his third successive Scotland match having been called up by the IRB when the original referee Chris Pollock (New Zealand) withdrew on account of injury.


Match : Samoa vs Scotland
Date : Saturday 23 June,
Venue : Apia Park, Apia Samoa
Kick Off : 3.30pm local time (3.30am BST)


Match Officials
Referee: Jaco
Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith and Andrew Lees (both Australia)


Scotland


15 Stuart Hogg ,14 Sean Lamont , 13 Nick De Luca , 12 Matt Scott , 11 Tim Visser,10 Greig Laidlaw , 9 Chris Cusiter ,1 Ryan Grant , 2 Ross Ford (C) 3 Euan Murray , 4 Richie Gray , 5 Alastair Kellock , 6 Alasdair Strokosch , 7 Ross Rennie , 8 Richie Vernon


Replacements : To be confirmed.

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