Scotland vs Tonga: Rugby World Cup kick-off time, TV channel, team news, lineups, venue, odds today

Scotland vs Tonga: Rugby World Cup kick-off time, TV channel, team news, lineups, venue, odds today

Scotland battle Tonga this afternoon on their return to Rugby World Cup competition after a two-week breather.

Gregor Townsend’s side have had plenty of time to stew on their tournament opener, a bruising 18-3 loss to reigning champions South Africa in Marseille that left the head coach smarting over a potential missed red card for Jesse Kriel early on.

Now they head to Nice looking to live up to their tag as comfortable favourites against the Pacific Islanders and achieve a first win to prove they are still in the mix to qualify from a granite Pool B, with Ireland and the Springboks going head to head in Paris 24 hours earlier.

Tonga’s squad has been bolstered by World Rugby’s changes to the rules around switching international allegiance, but the odds were always piled up against them in this group.

Toutai Kefu’s side impressed at times in their first game against Ireland last weekend, with Vaea Fifita scoring but eventually the world’s No1-ranked outfit ran in eight tries in a resounding 59-16 bonus-point win in which captain Johnny Sexton became their all-time leading points scorer.

Date, kick-off time and venue

Scotland vs Tonga takes place today on Sunday September 24, 2023, with kick-off scheduled for 4:45pm BST.

The game will be held at the Stade de Nice - AKA, the Allianz Riviera.

Where to watch Scotland vs Tonga

TV channel: In the UK, Scotland vs Tonga will be broadcast live and free to air on ITV1, with coverage beginning at 4pm.

Live stream: Fans can also tune in for free online via the ITV website and ITVX app.

Scotland vs Tonga team news

Townsend has made four changes to the Scotland XV that started against South Africa a fortnight ago, two in the backs and two among the forwards.

Wing Kyle Steyn and centre Chris Harris come in for Darcy Graham and Huw Jones, who both drop to the bench.

Rory Sutherland gets the nod at loosehead prop in place of Pierre Schoeman, while Scott Cummings partners Richie Gray at lock with Grant Gilchrist missing out altogether.

Ewan Ashman, Sam Skinner and George Horne are all drafted onto the Scotland bench.

Tonga are unchanged from their loss to Ireland, with Solomone Kata and Afusipa Taumoepeau trading wings and former Australia lock Adam Coleman in line for his debut from the bench.

Patrick Pellegrini is also among the replacements after a calf injury to back-up fly-half Otumaka Mausia.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Scotland vs Tonga lineups

Scotland XV: Kinghorn; Steyn, Harris, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe; Russell, White; Sutherland, Turner, Z Fagerson; R Gray, Cummings; Ritchie (c), Darge, Dempsey

Replacements: Ashman, Schoeman, Nel, Skinner, M Fagerson, Horne, Jones, Graham

Tonga XV: Piutau; Kata, Fekitoa, Ahki, Taumoepeau; Havili, Pulu; Fisi’ihoi, Ngauamo, Tameifuna (c); L Fifita, Lousi; Halaifonua, Talitui, V Fifita

Replacements: Moli, Kolomatangi, Apikotoa, Coleman, Paea, Vailanu, Takulua, Pellegrini

Scotland vs Tonga referee

The referee for Sunday’s game will be England’s Karl Dickson, assisted by Nika Amashukeli and Craig Evans plus TMO Ben Whitehouse.

Scotland vs Tonga prediction

Scotland played their part in an ultra-physical showdown with South Africa last time out, but few can take on the formidable Boks in the power game and come out on top.

It was not a surprise to see that game and the chance of a big early upset eventually ground away from them, but this is an altogether different prospect for Townsend and Co.

Scotland should have the chance to repeatedly showcase their attacking ambitions in Nice, with a big win surely on the cards. They need to get the bonus point to have any hope of challenging for a path out of Pool B.

Scotland to win, by 20 points.

Head to head (h2h) history and results

Scotland have won four of the five previous meetings between these two nations, but were bested by Tonga in an autumn international at Pittodrie back in 2012.

Scotland wins: 4

Tonga wins: 1

Draws: 0

Scotland vs Tonga latest odds

Scotland to win: 1/25

Tonga to win: 14/1

Draw: 50/1

Odds via Betfair and subject to change.