Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


The Key to Beating Australia on Tuesday

This coming Tuesday Scotland take to an unknown site in Newcastle, New South Wales, and challenge the second ranked team in the World. They have Australia in Australia.

Despite the famous victory at Murrayfield 2009, as Matt Giteau slipped kicks uncharacteristically short of the posts, this is normally a fixture with a foregone conclusion. Few ever expect the Wallabies to succumb to Scotland and even less so at home.

However, having spoken to a few fans of a southern persuasion there is a sense that a hiccup may happen on Tuesday.

A lot of this stems from the squad selections by Robbie Deans and his backroom staff. Selecting a swollen 39-man squad there were call-ups for several uncapped players and a few superfluous props, fullbacks and back rowers. They are unsure who to pick at 10 after some injuries, they are trying to convince Quade Cooper he is fit and captain James Horwill is on the sidelines.

Despite all of their green options on the wings and at fullback, though, it is their pack options that give an unfancied Scot cause for hope.

They have selected six locks, three of whom are uncapped and one with a solitary game. James Slipper, Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota Nau aside, there looks to be no franchise front rowers. Throw in the back row debate and there is a chance Scotland have their objective laid out for them: skittle the pack.

With Australia there are stereotypes impossible to break down: Queenslanders and New South Wales natives dislike each other, shrimps go on barbies and the scrum is a weakness.

Yet it may not be that straightforward. Yes there is a chance that a front row of Jon Welsh, Ross Ford and Euan Murray will be given the task of crumpling their scrum, but the true area where Scotland could command is in the line-out.

Without Horwill and with no Rocky Elsom or standout back row bounder a lot of responsibility falls to veteran Nathan Sharpe. Kane Douglas is considered more of a grunt man, Caderyn Neville is talented but woefully shy of experience and Hugh Pyle is inconsistent.

Richie Gray will target Sharpe if he starts. If not then the away side have the capabilities of getting bodies in the air and snuffing out a drive. Kicks to touch won’t scare them. They may even be welcome. The issue is joining Andy Robinson’s high tempo style with a brutal set-piece. That will set the tone for this tour.

Soon enough we will know Australia’s match-day squad. This is a chance for the Scots to exercise a new look. If Australia do the same it could be all over the place as a spectacle. The one mercy is that this could mean more set-piece. Will expectations be met?

8 Responses

  1. Great article Alan.

    I wondered what influence the Super 15 will have the game? The Brumbies, Rebels and Waratahs all have games this weekend which will presumably limit the Australian selection. I would imagine they would see the Super 15 as a priority over a game against Scotland which, in theory, they should easily win.

    There’s a sense of optimism about the game on Tuesday. Let’s hope Scotland can pull off a historic upset!

  2. I just can’t see Scotland pulling off an upset.

    They have components of a good side, but Australia are far further down the line (even with injuries to Beale, O’Connor etc). Will Genia seems to be returning to form too in the last few weeks.

    It will be good to see Stuart Hogg on the hard grounds of the southern hemisphere though! Hopefully when Visser qualifies to play, they can develop a good understanding in the back three.

    What do you make of Scott Johnson as new attack coach? It seems fans have mixed opinions.

    1. I have an article on that very subject going live sometime soon over at , Philip. Reckon he will be challenging but good (in the short, short term)

  3. Re the Aussie preparation – shouldn’t take them long to get up to speed according to a post in a forum down here

    “These guys don’t need much training. Basically all they need to know is the lineout calls and backline moves.

    The Wallabies only have four different lineout calls anyway. They use a pretty simple ‘magic number’, usually an 8. Vickerman/Simmons/Sharpe calls three numbers, and whichever one the 8 is in is where the ball is going- the front, the middle or the back. The other move is a variation where the ball goes to the front man. Oh, and if they put in a cars name at the end it’s a drive ball. So it really only takes an hour to pick this up.

    And the backs have only three moves- overs, unders and cut 1. But they aren’t called that (duh), they are called ‘Electric’, ‘Light’ and ‘Orchestra’ (Robbie is a real fan of 1970s orchestral rock). Again this only takes an hour to pick up.

    You spend the second hour of training doing kickoffs and scrums, and then finish with a game of touch. Boom.”

    Flying down to Newcastle on Tuesday so looking forward to an entertaining game

You might also like these:

The Scotland team to face Chile this weekend has been announced and features 10 changes from the side that beat the USA last weekend.
Rory watches as Scotland reach the half way point in their tour with victory over the USA in Washington.
Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion