World Rugby U20 Championship 2017: Scotland v Australia

KO 11.30am (2.30pm local time)
Saturday 18th October
Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi

No matter what happens in this game when the final whistle blows, Scotland will have their best ever finish in the WR u20s Championship. In the top half for the first time and among the second seeds for next year’s tournament, it’s been an excellent few weeks for John Dalziel’s men. Can they put together one more performance against an Australian side who only missed out on the Championship semi-finals due to an agonising 1 point loss to England in Pool A…

15 Blair Kinghorn
14 Robbie Nairn
13 Ross McCann
12 Stafford McDowall
11 Darcy Graham
10 Connor Eastgate
9 Andrew Simmers
15 Liam McNamara
14 Henry Hutchison
13 Izaia Perese
12 Sione Tuipulotu
11 Semisi ‘Ofa Tupou
10 Hamish Stewart
9 Harrison Goddard

1 George Thornton
2 Fraser Renwick
3 Adam Nicol
4 Alex Craig
5 Callum Hunter-Hill (c)
6 Luke Crosbie
7 Matt Fagerson
8 Tom Dodd

1 Cody Walker
2 Jordan Uelese
3 Shambeckler Vui
4 Ryan McCauley
5 Harrison Hockings
6 Angus Scott-Young
7 Liam Wright
8 Reece Hewat (c)

16 Robbie Smith
17 Fergus Bradbury
18 Daniel Winning
19 Hamish Bain
20 Bruce Flockhart
21 Charl Shiel
22 Josh Henderson
23 Lewis Berg

16 Efitusi Maafu
17 Harry Johnson-Holmes
18 Gavin Luka
19 Lachlan Swinton
20 Robert Valetini
21 Harry Nucifora
22 Nicholas Jooste
23 Dylan Riley

Team Talk
Head coach John Dalziel has selected the same starting XV for the third match in succession. It’s a tribute to the squad’s fitness and mental strength that they have managed to get through so much rugby with this game representing the fifth in 18 days for the majority of the 23.

Skipper, Callum Hunter-Hill, has lead by example and has been on the pitch for all 320 minutes so far – as have Luke Crosbie and Ross McCann. Stafford McDowall (319 minutes) and Blair Kinghorn (314 minutes) aren’t far behind either. Every member of the squad has contributed though and there are some bright futures ahead for a lot of these boys.

Previous results
The sides have met 5 times at this level with Australia victorious on 4 occasions, with the solitary Scottish win coming in last season’s tournament.

2010 Pool matchScotland 13 – 58 Australia (Santa Fe, Argentina)

Dougie Fife scored the dark blues only try as they were swamped 9 tries to 1. Alex Dunbar played in that match and tackled the full Australian side earlier this weekend. Robert Harley also played that day and is part of Scotland’s squad for the 2017 Summer Tests.

2012 Pool match: Scotland 12 – 67 Australia (Bellville, South Africa)

Tries from Andy Redmayne and Jamie Farndale (one of six he scored in that season’s tournament) were nowhere near enough to prevent another thumping with the Aussies crossing the Scottish line 11 times in total. Finn Russell was at inside centre and occupied the number 10 shirt for Scotland’s historic win in Sydney. Also there in 2012 were Alex Allan – who is in the wider Scotland squad – plus Mark Bennett and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (playing full back) – who have the summer off due to injury.

2015 Fifth place semi-final: Scotland 21 – 31 Australia (Calvisano, Italy)

Gradually getting closer but scores from Alec Coombes and Richard Galloway (allied to a penalty try) weren’t enough to turn over Australia. For Scotland Zander Fagerson was in the number 3 shirt for the Test match on Saturday and Magnus Bradbury is also in Oz. Ned Hanigan started for the Australian u20s and he featured at blindside for the Wallabies at the Allianz Arena, winning his second full cap.

2016 Pool match: Scotland 15 – 10 Australia (Manchester)
2016 Fifth place semi-final: Scotland 15 – 10 Australia (Manchester)

Scotland’s tournament opener featured tries from Zander Fagerson and Darcy Graham – and the small matter of a first win at u20 level against the Australians. Hugh Fraser, Robbie Nairn and Scott Cummings crossed in the playoff match later in the tournament but fatigue and injuries were starting to take their toll and the Aussies had their revenge.

Just 4 of the matchday 23 from that Scottish victory will be involved a year later – Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Alex Craig and Charlie Shiel. By contrast 9 of the Australians who tasted defeat that day will feature in Tibilisi. That additional experience could prove vital at this stage of the tournament.

Ones to watch

There are any number of good prospects in this Scotland team. There’s the languid running of Blair Kinghorn. The muscular defence of Stafford McDowell. George Thornton and Adam Nicol have locked out the scrum. Skipper Callum Hunter-Hill has been an inspirational leader. If pushed to pick out one individual though it’s the pocket rocket Darcy Graham who has really set this tournament alight from a Scottish perspective. He has scored 4 tries so far in the Championship and assisted on this stunner against Ireland that was finished off by Ross McCann.

On the Australian side watch out for Shambeckler Vui. Packing 18 1/2 stone into a compact 5’10” frame make him a powerhouse scrummaging at tighthead prop. He can also shift though and is hugely difficult to stop when he is carrying the ball. This is from last year’s tournament but gives some idea of what the Western Force player can do!

Where to watch:
ITV4 have the rights to the latter stages of the tournament but are currently only listing the tournament final between England and New Zealand for live coverage. Streaming by World Rugby will be geoblocked due to rights issues – but if you are outwith the UK these are the places to try to see if there is any live action:

It’s also worth keeping an eye on Scottish Rugby’s Facebook page as they often post updates.


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