Australia v Scotland, Summer Tests 2017 – match preview

KO 6.00am (3.00pm local time)
Saturday 17th June
Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Live on Sky Sports 1

It’s been 5 years since Scotland last played in Australia and almost 14 years since they last played in Sydney. Terra Australis has not been kind to the Scots with 30 years separating their two wins (1982 and 2012) but they will travel in a positive frame of mind after an encouraging Six Nations and a comfortable win over Italy last week.

Team talk

  • More than 5 years have elapsed since Lee Jones was last capped for Scotland.
  • Ross Ford’s try double against Italy snapped a rather lengthy scoreless streak in dark blue – it had been almost exactly 9 years (and 86 Tests) since he last crossed the whitewash against Argentina in Buenos Aires. After 3,283 days between his 2nd and 3rd tries there were just 6 minutes separating his 3rd and 4th.
  • Australia’s number 19, Rory Arnold, shares his birthplace with former Scotland player (and coach) Nathan Hines. There’s clearly something in the water in Wagga Wagga that allows them to grow giant human beings!

Starting XV stats:
Backs

Average age – AUS 28.4   SCO 26.5
Test caps – AUS 234   SCO 91
Tries – AUS 61   SCO 13

Forwards
Average age – AUS 26.3   SCO 26.6
Test caps – AUS 211   SCO 195
Pack weights – AUS 903kg   SCO 909kg

AUSTRALIA
15 Israel Folau
14 Dane Haylett-Petty
13 Tevita Kuridrani
12 Karmichael Hunt
11 Eto Nabuli
10 Bernard Foley
9 Will Genia
HEAD-TO-HEAD
ADV Australia
ADV Australia
ADV Australia
ADV Scotland
ADV Australia
ADV Scotland
ADV Australia
SCOTLAND
15 Greig Tonks
14 Lee Jones
13 Alex Dunbar
12 Duncan Taylor
11 Rory Hughes
10 Finn Russell
9 Ali Price

1 Tom Robertson
2 Tatafu Polota-Nau
3 Allan Ala’alatoa
4 Sam Carter
5 Adam Coleman
6 Ned Hanigan
7 Michael Hooper (c)
8 Scott Higginbotham
.
ADV Scotland
ADV Australia
EVEN
EVEN
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
EVEN
ADV Australia

1 Gordon Reid
2 Fraser Brown
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Ben Toolis
5 Jonny Gray
6 John Barclay (c)
7 Hamish Watson
8 Ryan Wilson

16 Stephen Moore
17 Scott Sio
18 Sekope Kepu
19 Rory Arnold
20 Richard Hardwick
21 Joe Powell
22 Quade Cooper
23 Reece Hodge
.
EVEN
ADV Australia
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Australia
EVEN

16 Ross Ford
17 Allan Dell
18 WP Nel
19 Tim Swinson
20 Josh Strauss
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Ruaridh Jackson
23 Matt Scott

Australia scouting report

  • Bulky backs
    Michael Cheika has named a side that seems to value size and skill over pace and skill. Outside of the half backs, every member of the backline is 6ft plus with an average weight of 100kg (just under 16 stone in old money).
  • Pass masters
    Australia throw a lot of passes. The ball will move move through multiple pairs of hands far more frequently than Scotland will typically be used to seeing. In their last Test the Australians averaged 2.3 passes for each attacking ruck. That compares to 1.4 passes for Italy (and 1.5 for Scotland) during the game in Singapore.
  • Deadly distributors
    The key men for this additional distribution are Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau. Folau in particular will be heavily involved in the game with the freedom to decide whether to attack the line himself or draw and pass.
  • Scrum half struggles?
    Will Genia has been getting mixed reviews on his return to the Green and Gold last week. There have been a few comments that he was outplayed by his opposite number – one Mr. N. Matawalu. Genia will no doubt be delighted to be facing off against Niko’s apprentice this week. It’s all there for Ali Price – the pace; the try-scoring; the hair…
  • Dogged discipline
    Considering how much time they spent defending (only 43% possession against Fiji) Australian discipline was very good, conceding just 6 penalties. That potentially means little in the way of easy territory and scoring opportunities for Scotland and a lot of hard graft ahead.

Previous results
Recent meetings have been a mixed bag from a Scotland perspective but never anything less than close with an aggregate score across the last 5 games of 89 – 93:

W W L L L

Last meeting – Murrayfield (12th November 2016):

Scotland 22 – 23 Australia

13 players return from that game for Scotland – with 10 of the Australian 23 back on duty. The two sides’ last encounter in Australia was of course during a monsoon in Newcastle in 2012. John Barclay, Scott Higginbotham and Will Genia are the only starters this weekend who were also in the matchday XV for that game (Matt Scott, Ross Ford, Stephen Moore and Michael Hooper are the others to feature in both fixtures).

Officials:

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Brendon Pickerill (England)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)

This will be Scotland’s fifth encounter with Mr. Barnes in the last five years. At an average of nearly 15 penalties a game the Scots have found themselves in the solicitor’s bad books on too many occasions. The dark blues have also chalked up 4 yellow cards in those matches – quite simply discipline will need to be better in Sydney or an already difficult task will become nigh on impossible.

Among the assistant referees will be Mr. Carley who filled the same role in the Scotland v Wales fixture during the Six Nations. He made at least 4 significant (and 100% accurate) interventions from the sidelines during that game. Hopefully Mr. Barnes encourages this kind of collaborative approach with his officiating team to help ensure as many correct decisions as possible are made.

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