Four changes for Scots for RWC QF v Aust

Vern Cotter has made four changes, two of them enforced, to the Scotland starting XV for Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final with Australia.

Hooker Fraser Brown and lock Tim Swinson come in for the suspended Ross Ford and Jonny Gray respectively – even though the Scots have appealed against the three week bans imposed on the duo.

Cotter also brought in Blair Cowan in the backrow replacing Ryan Wilson, who was sin-binned during the Samoa game, and centre Peter Horne comes in for Matthew Scott.

Cotter, whose work since he arrived in May 2014 is starting to bear fruit with the Scots having shown a marked improvement at the World Cup, said that his side would not be going into the game with an inferiority complex.

“It’s always nice to be part of the final eight of any qualifying competition, the guys are very excited about being here,” said the 53-year-old New Zealander, who was lured to the Scotland post from Top 14 giants Clermont.

“We will go into this game with the belief that we can compete with and dominate a very strong Australian team, and move forward to the last four.

“They are a front-foot momentum team so defence will be key but also getting our hands on the ball and expressing ourselves as we like to,” added Cotter, who guided Clermont to an elusive first French title in 2010, although his side became known as chokers for numerous failures in the decisive stages of both domestic and European competition.

New Zealand-born Cowan, who was called up as a replacement during the tournament, will fill a back row of players with roots outside of Scotland alongside Zimbabwe-born David Denton and another Kiwi in John Hardie.

The side will be captained by scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, who kicked all the points when the Scots pulled off a rare win in Australia in 2012, beating the Wallabies in appalling weather conditions 12-6.

Laidlaw, who finished the pool stage as the leading points scorer with 60, captains the side for the 21st time, four behind record-holder David Sole and only needs one penalty on Sunday to reach the landmark of 100 in Test rugby.

America-born wing Tommy Seymour could equal the Scottish record of scoring in successive Test matches on Sunday as he has touched down in his past four, with Gregor Townsend holding the mark of five from 1999.

Scotland have only once ever reached the semi-finals of the quadrennial global showpiece, in 1991 when they lost to hosts England.

Scotland (15-1):Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); David Denton, John Hardie, Blair Cowan; Richie Gray, Tim Swinson; WP Nel, Fraser Brown, Alasdair Dickinson

Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh, Alasdair Strokosch, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Richie Vernon, Sean Lamont

Coach: Vern Cotter (NZL)

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