Scotland v Australia, Autumn Tests 2017 – match preview

KO 2.30
Saturday 25th November
Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

Live on BBC1 Scotland

5 months after their last meeting (a 24-19 victory for Scotland in Sydney) these two sides are ready to do battle once more. Everything points to a close contest. Across their last 6 meetings there have been 3 wins each, the aggregate score is a single point in the Scots’ favour (113-112) and none of the winning margins have been more than a converted try. The head to heads similarly suggest two evenly matched teams.

Both nations will feel they have improved since that last clash in Australia but equally, having come off the back of frustrating defeats last weekend, there will be a strong sense that this is a must win to finish 2017 on a high and avoid a long hangover waiting for Test rugby to kick off again next year.

Starting XV stats:
Backs

26.6   Average age   26.6   
199   
Test caps   315
51   
Tries scored   77

Forwards
27.3   Average age   28.4
181
   Test caps   497
896kg   Pack weights   888kg

  • Adding in the 178 caps on the bench Australia have just under 1,000 previous Test appearances – more than double the 458 of Scotland’s matchday 23.
  • The Australian front row have nearly 250 more caps than the combined 17 for their Scottish counterparts.
  • Stephen Moore will play his last game of rugby before retiring. Congratulations on a fine career to the former skipper of Australia but hopefully Scotland send him into his post-rugby career with a fourth defeat in eight games against the dark blues!

SCOTLAND
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Huw Jones
12 Peter Horne
11 Sean Maitland
10 Finn Russell
9 Ali Price
HEAD-TO-HEAD
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
EVEN
ADV Australia
EVEN
ADV Scotland
ADV Australia
AUSTRALIA
15 Kurtley Beale
14 Marika Koroibete
13 Tevita Kuridrani
12 Samu Kerevi
11 Reece Hodge
10 Bernard Foley
9 Will Genia

1 Darryl Marfo
2 Stuart McInally
3 Simon Berghan
4 Grant Gilchrist
5 Jonny Gray
6 John Barclay (c)
7 Hamish Watson
8 Ryan Wilson
.
ADV Australia
EVEN
ADV Australia
EVEN
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
EVEN
ADV Australia

1 Scott Sio
2 Stephen Moore
3 Sekope Kepu
4 Rob Simmons
5 Blake Enever
6 Ben McCalman
7 Michael Hooper (c)
8 Sean McMahon

16 Fraser Brown
17 Jamie Bhatti
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Ben Toolis
20 Cornell Du Preez
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Phil Burleigh
23 Byron McGuigan
.
EVEN
ADV Australia
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
EVEN
EVEN
ADV Australia
ADV Australia

16 Tatafu Polota-Nau
17 Tetera Faulkner
18 Teniela Tupou
19 Lukhan Tui
20 Lopeti Timani
21 Nick Phipps
22 Karmichael Hunt
23 Henry Speight

Australia scouting report

  • Reasonable results
    Since playing Scotland the Australians have only lost to New Zealand (who they also managed to beat at the third time of asking) and England. For the whole of 2017 they have 7 wins, 2 draws and 4 defeats in a congested international calendar. They were averaging 34 points a game until the England match, notching 55 tries in the process. With Scotland also strong in attack this has the potential to be a free-flowing, high-scoring contest.
  • Dodgy discipline
    Aussie indiscipline has made their lives difficult so far in their matches in the UK. They have conceded 30 penalties + free kicks along with 3 yellow cards in their 2 games so far on their European tour.
  • Fijian flavour
    There is definitely a Pacific Island influence to the Australian backline from the Fijian-born trio of Kerevi, Kuridrani and Koroibete. After Scotland’s struggles in Suva they need to be far more aggressive in defence against players who not only have the power and pace to make ground but also the passing skills to keep the ball alive.
  • Defensive doubts
    While everyone in the Aussie backline looks great with ball in hand their defence is maybe not at the same level. The backs have missed 16 tackles so far against Wales and England and they can be exposed from setpieces and turnover ball.
  • Danger man
    Kurtley Beale will constantly be inserting himself into the line and acting as a second playmaker. His 37 involvements against England (9 kicks, 14 passes, 14 runs) weren’t far off Bernard Foley’s 48 at fly half.

Previous meetings at Murrayfield

  • The two nations have met 18 times before in Scotland with 17 of those games at Murrayfield (the odd one out was held at Hampden in 2004).
  • Starting in 1927 Scotland won 6 of the first 7 matches but since then Australia have dominated only losing once, in 2009, on their travels to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  • With the recent victory in Sydney added to another in a Newcastle monsoon in 2012, Scotland actually have more wins against Australia in Australia than they do at home during the last 35 years.

Last meeting 12th November 2016:

Scotland 22 – 23 Australia

20 of the players included in the match day 23s for that last encounter will not be involved this time around. In fact to illustrate how quickly things change in Test rugby with form, injuries and player development all to the fore just 10 of the 30 players who started the two sides’ most recent meeting 5 months ago will start again in Saturday’s match (6 Scots and 4 Aussies).

Officials:

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant 1: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant 2: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Scotland, and in particular their back rowers, have had a somewhat fractious relationship of late with M. Gauzere. John Barclay and Alex Dunbar saw yellow against Ireland in 2016. Barclay was off again when Italy visited Murrayfield earlier this year. It was Josh Strauss’ turn to visit the sin bin when the French whistler took charge of Scotland’s defeat to Fiji over the summer.

On the other side of the coin of course, as noted above, Australia are no angels when it comes to discipline. In fact their skipper, Michael Hooper, has amassed more yellow cards than any other player in Test rugby having been sin binned against both Wales and England this Autumn. He will need to balance losing out on the some of the benefits of his all action, high involvement style or facing the potential cost of incurring the wrath of M. Gauzere…


Picture credit – Adrian Henry. For more of Adrian’s excellent pictures from all levels of Scottish rugby check out rugbypeople.net

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