Scotland out to show upturn in form
June 4, 2012
Stuart Hogg will be one of Scotland's main attacking threats against Australia © Getty Images
Scotland may be set to a face an Australia side featuring five debutants, but it is likely to be a difficult task for Andy Robinson's side to record only their second win away to the Wallabies.
Andy Robinson's side last won in October, when they beat Georgia 15-6 in the World Cup. Since then they fell to defeats to England and Argentina in the tournament before being whitewashed in the Six Nations. As such the side will be looking for any signs of recovery that they can take with them to their other tour matches, against Fiji and Samoa.
Despite starting as underdogs a win for Scotland would be their second in a row. They won 9-8 the last time the two sides met, in November 2008 thanks to two penalties from Phil Godman and a long-range drop goal from Dan Parks.
Australia meanwhile are captained by flanker David Pocock after regular skipper James Horwill was forced to drop out with a hamstring injury. They will also be without utility backs James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, while fly-half Quade Cooper is returning to his best. They will also have to overcome the difficulties that have dogged their Super Rugby sides this year, though they have showed in the past that when they put on the gold and green that they have no problem putting domestic issues behind them.
Scotland - player to watch: Fullback Stuart Hogg showed he is a dangerous runner when he was handed a start during the Six Nations. With Scotland still struggling to score tries, Hogg's elusive running will be crucial to Scotland creating and finishing moves.
Scotland - team news: Andy Robinson has handed debuts to two players. At prop Ryan Grant will be key to exposing any weaknesses in the Australia scrum, while Matt Scott starts at inside-centre. John Barclay moves into the number 8 role to complete a mobile back-row, alongside Alasdair Strokosch and Ross Rennie.
Australia - player to watch: Berrick Barnes has enjoyed a mixed season in Super Rugby for the Waratahs, but with Quade Cooper and James O'Connor missing he has the chance to establish himself as Australia's creative fulcrum.
Australia - team news: Robbie Deans brings in five new faces to provide more depth to the squad as the three-Test series against Wales is set to start on Saturday. Luke Moraham will start at full-back, Mike Harris at inside-centre, Joe Tomane lines up on the right wing, Dan Palmer will anchor the scrum at tight-head prop and Dave Dennis joins Pocock in the back row.
Key Battle: Ross Rennie and John Barclay will have to be at their very best at the breakdown to nullify the threat posed by David Pocock. If they can't get to grips with Australia's stand-in captain, then the Australian backs will have plenty of ball to play with.
Trivia: Two of Australia's new faces were born in New Zealand. Mike Harris and Joe Tomane were both born the other side of the Tasman Sea and Harris previously represented New Zealand's under-20.
Stats: Scotland have one only once in Australia, back in 1982 when they won 12-7 in Brisbane.
"We have to contest the breakdown that is why we are playing John Barclay at number eight. We have to put Australia under huge pressure in that area, we want to have a go at them, put pressure on (Will) Genia and slow Australia ball down." - Scotland coach Andy Robinson on the breakdown battle
"A feature of the Scottish team under Andy Robinson is that they are very well organised. The Scottish teams of my experience have always been extremely physical in their approach, so they will be very direct and come right at us." - Australia coach Robbie Deans on what he expects from Scotland
Prediction: Australia will get their 2012 Test season off to a winning start with Will Genia and Berrick Barnes pulling the strings.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action
The latest Week in Pictures takes in some original ways of welcoming teams to the field and plenty of tries from the European Champions Cup