Consistency the key for Scots

Scotland coach Andy Robinson is looking for consistency in performance despite making 14 changes for his side's second and final World Cup warm-up match against Italy this Saturday. [more]

Consistency the key for Scots

Scotland coach Andy Robinson is looking for consistency in performance despite making 14 changes for his side’s second and final World Cup warm-up match against Italy this Saturday.

Only centre Graeme Morrison retains his place in the starting XV from the victory over Ireland a fortnight ago as Robinson looks to finalise his selection for next month’s global gathering in New Zealand.

Lions tourists Mike Blair and Nathan Hines start at scrum-half and second row respectively, with Ali Kellock taking over from Rory Lawson as the side’s skipper.

Dan Parks is named at stand-off, with Rory Lamont, Max Evans, Simon Danielli and Nick de Luca completing the backline.

English-based duo Alasdair Dickinson and Scott Lawson start alongside Glasgow’s Moray Low in the front row, while Richie Vernon joins two of the ‘Killer Bs’, Kelly Brown and John Barclay, in the back row.

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"We have made 14 changes from the team that started against Ireland as we want to give those players who have been working very hard in training the opportunity to put that into practice," said Robinson.

"It’s an opportunity for people to put their hand up for the World Cup and get in the starting XV, rather than just getting in the 30-man squad.

"I’m looking for consistency of performance. I rested a number of players for the Ireland match to look at some combinations and now a number of those players, like Kelly Brown, Nathan Hines, John Barclay and Al Kellock, come into the starting line up.

"Some players are playing their first game so they need to work hard on their tackle technique and our defensive alignment but they also need to bring some energy in attack and work hard to create opportunities that we’re able to finish off. That’s down to all 15 players working hard with the ball or in support play."

While Ireland have decided to play four World Cup warm-up matches and England and Wales three this month, Scotland have taken a different approach.

With the first two games in their pool coming against Romania and Georgia, Robinson has decided that just two friendly fixtures will provide the perfect preparation ahead of vital group games against England and Argentina.

And Robinson knows a forward-orientated Italian side will provide the kind of challenge Scotland are looking for, with all four of their Pool B opponents known for their physical approach.

"As ever, our aim is to improve on that last showing and I believe that Italy will prove ideal opponents ahead of our opening Rugby World Cup matches against Romania and Georgia," added Robinson.

"Historically Scotland have found Italy very tough opponents and it was no surprise to us that they achieved one of the results of the Six Nations Championship earlier this year when they accounted for France in Rome.

"We knew we had to be at our best when we faced them next up after their success against France and I was pleased with the way our forwards in particular fronted up at set piece back in March."

Scotland: R Lamont (Toulon), M Evans (Castres), N De Luca (Edinburgh), G Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), S Danielli (Ulster), D Parks (Cardiff Blues), M Blair (Edinburgh), A Dickinson (Sale Sharks), S Lawson (Gloucester), M Low (Glasgow Warriors), N Hines (Clermont Ferrand), A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), K Brown (Saracens), R Vernon (Sale Sharks), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)

Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow Warriors), E Murray (Newcastle Falcons), R Gray (Glasgow Warriors), R Rennie (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), N Walker (Ospreys)

NB. Bold denotes Lions tourist

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