Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland vs New Zealand: the teams

Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

It’s the big one this weekend with Scotland taking on the Best Team in the World™ as New Zealand come calling.

With the talent that has appeared in Scottish ranks over the last few years, the chance to have a proper crack at them was possibly a bit more appealing before the current run of injuries deprived us of a number of our top line players. Back in the early days of the blog, it wasn’t really much fun, this fixture.

Townsend has been able to pick a fairly settled back line with the Price/Russell/Hogg creative axis the beating heart of this team. Hogg comes into the line a lot in attack (which could be what deprives the centres of ball), so New Zealand will probably look to keep him pegged back with kicks especially if conditions are poor. It will be great to see him play against them again after he was cruelly deprived by Conor Murray’s elbow earlier in the year. More opportunities for the insanely promising Huw Jones could actually be good for Scotland though. Witness the chaos Russell caused to Australia in Sydney as they held off tackling him, unsure of what he was going to do and giving enough time to cut them open. Imagine if you had to defend three of them in Hogg, Jones and Russell?

I suppose it would be like playing a fifth of the All Blacks, who threaten from 1-15. Ah well, back down to earth. I do believe this team can score tries against New Zealand.

Will they?

Gregor Townsend has spoken of continuity with the side throughout the autumn so the likelihood was always that there would not be too many changes from last week barring injury.

Up front, Nel’s arm fracture means that Fagerson will start at tighthead. With Marfo on the loosehead capping his particular fairytale it will be a front row unit unafraid of reputations or a bit of pushing and shoving but with Stuart McInally – who got a new 2 year contract this week – at hooker they are still very short on high-level match experience. This’ll be Zander’s biggest test yet but he at least has 10+ caps to fall back on.

There are some experienced, big game players in this team and the likes of Jonny Gray and Edinburgh’s new signing John Barclay will need to step up with a huge defensive effort if that backline is to have even half a chance. If everyone performs and the defence holds, there is a chance, however small. The rejuvenated Murrayfield crowd will be a new thing for the All Blacks as will a Scotland side that wilts less easily than they might be used to. In the back row, Cornell du Preez makes a welcome ball-carrying addition for his first start as Ryan Wilson injured his shoulder in the Samoa game.

It is the best side we have going, which does however mean that the main worry is likely to come from the relative strengths of the benches.

You would think that if fit (or otherwise available) Fraser Brown, WP Nel, Richie Gray, John Hardie, Greig Laidlaw, Sean Maitland and Duncan Taylor all would have played some role in this fixture. Even if from the bench – but that is the best part of a pretty handy looking, experienced bench Scotland are missing.

Instead Grant Gilchrist, Luke Hamilton and Simon Berghan come in to fill holes left by injury or players promoted to the starting XV. Hamilton could earn a first cap as could Byron McGuigan who comes in for Chris Harris. There’s a raw look to it, for sure, with a combined total of just 72 caps and if you take out Horne and Pyrgos it drops to 21 caps.

With a midweek game against France on Tuesday, New Zealand have reserved many of their top players for this one including Sonny Bill – whom I am sure Finn will teach a thing or two about offloads – although there was a late call on the fitness of their captain Kieran Read. Any number of leaders could command the side in his place but overall the strength of the team should be taken as a compliment. With a record that spans multiple lifetimes, no All Black wants to be in the first team to lose to Scotland and they will have been studying the recent upturn closely.

Elsewhere as predicted Lee Jones will take on the mighty Naholo our very own House Party will be up against possibly the number one pair of half-backs in the world.

If by some set of good fortune Scotland are still in the game in the dying quarter of an hour, is the depth of the squad coming off the bench going to be able to prevent those final soft tries that are the common price of trying to live with New Zealand for the previous hour? That is the unique agony of playing the All Blacks. You can compete, and compete well, but the scoreboard records a six try drubbing if you run out of steam. To quote Huw Jones:

“Nobody can be 70%. To beat the number one team in the world everyone, from one to 23, has to be at their absolute best for 80-plus minutes.”

Keep your fingers crossed our lads have plenty left in the tank for this one.

Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg (vice-capt), 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Alex Dunbar, 11. Lee Jones, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price; 1. Darryl Marfo, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Jonny Gray (vice-capt), 6. John Barclay (capt), 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Cornell du Preez.

Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Grant Gilchrist, 20. Luke Hamilton, 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Pete Horne, 23. Byron McGuigan.

New Zealand: 15. Damian McKenzie, 14. Waisake Naholo, 13. Ryan Crotty, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Aaron Smith; 1. Kane Hames, 2, Codie Taylor, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Vaea Fifita, 7. Sam Cane, 8. Kieran Read (capt).

Replacements: 16. Nathan Harris, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19. Liam Squire, 20. Matt Todd, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Lima Sopoaga, 23. Anton Lienert-Brown.

Coverage on BBC Sport and BT Sport, kick off 5.15pm, Saturday 18th.

57 Responses

  1. Not quite the full Toonie Tombola (TM) but certainly tombola lite! Fagerson starting was obviously enforced and most people had du Preez to start at 8 but Hamilton, Gilchrist and McGuigan on the bench is a bit of a surprise. Cracking opportunity for the newbies to show what they can do, particularly if Hamilton is as good a ball carrier as some have suggested since his inclusion in the squad.

    Good luck to everyone involved on Saturday, I feel we will need a near flawless performance to get a win but it can happen!

    1. The squad has got 388 caps between them. For comparison, England’s starting XV has 650ish. It’ll be a miracle if we are within 20 points of them!

      1. Well, 12 of the 23 have 10 caps or fewer, I wouldn’t call that plenty of experience. OK, we’re not playing England, but New Zealand have 762 caps in their 23, which is almost twice as many as we do. That’s gotta have an influence on the outcome of the game, right?

  2. Looks like a pretty decent lineup to me. I like Batman, but I’m also pleased to see CdP start. He has great all round skills and the extra 10 kgs could be a boost where we need it. The bench looks fairly strong too. Not sure Gilchrist fits with Toony’s ‘fastest rugby’ plans, but I guess he has ultimately opted for experience over the dynamism of Cummings. To be fair, Gilchrist has been doing what he does well for Edinburgh. Unsurprising to say, it would be very surprising if we won! Certainly we’ll need to play better than I’ve seen Scotland play against anyone in the past couple of decades or so. It is a callow team, and I think we will need a settled, fit and on form, close to first choice selection throughout on that day when we do change the record. Hoping for a step up across the entire squad and for ABs to find they are in a very serious test.

    1. Bench looks fairly strong? Really? My first thought was ‘that bench is mince’!

      1. Yeah – not that I expect it to be decisive.

        We have no real impact from the bench except the possible wildcard of Hamilton – missing too many players so most replacement are more steady eddies than impact subs. Need a miracle to escape with a moral victory – 30pt loss and a couple of tries would be about par, but it could get much uglier.

      2. Should have said – ‘stronger than expected’. Given the injuries I don’t think there are any screamers in there.

  3. I’m normally as optimistic as it’s possible to be before a game, but the inexperience and weakness of the bench has me really doubting our ability to stay in this as a competitive match much after HT.

    For me…

    Losing by 30 points: as expected

    Losing by 20 points: an achievement.

    Losing by 10 points: cementing our progression.

    Losing by less than 10 points: demonstrates that we can compete at the upper end now.

    Winning, no matter by how much: a miracle.

    And is it just me, or is Wilson’s injury quite convenient so that Toony doesn’t have to drop one of his favoured players?

    1. If we had a full-strength squad, then I’d say your -30/-20/-10 etc. should be more like -15/-5/+5/+15.

      With this squad, I still think we should be aiming a bit higher than you suggest, even though the weakness of the bench really concerns me. Perhaps more like -25/-15/-5 etc.

    2. I have to agree with your synopsis of how I’ll feel about the result.
      However, I don’t agree with you (or GT) wanting to drop Wilson. CdP has been flakey – about as flakey as Ryan a couple of years ago. Having a bit of beef at 8 won’t harm us but Wilson is now excelling as a dark arts – slowing the ball down – master. We’ll miss him.
      The bench, however enforced, looks lightweight/inexperienced. Against the ABs I’d have had Hardie and Visser on the bench, irrespective of how many drugs or perceived weaknesses they have.

      1. CdP is in form and impressed from the bench last week, so entirely justified in making the team for Saturday. I would have had him in even if Wilson was fit. Don’t disagree that we need guys in the back row who are well-versed in the dark arts of the breakdown, but (a) we’ve already got Barclay for that, and (b) we need a ball-carrier to actually get in the position that the ‘dark arts’ are effective.

  4. Just looked at team that played in the 1/4 final v Aus. Just 4 from that 23 involved on Saturday, and not a single forward. A lot of change in 24 months. Also shows how many good players we’re missing, have seemingly chosen to discard (Denton, Strauss, Visser), and have lost for other reasons…

    Dickinson, Nell, Ford, Brown and R Gray is a lot of clout missing from the forwards. Also feel that despite being a bit forgotten (and the emergence of H Jones) that Bennett at his best is a wonderful player

    Hogg; Maitland, Bennett, Horne, Seymour; Russell, Laidlaw; Dickinson, Ford, Nel, R Gray, J Gray, Cowan, Hardie, Denton.
    Replacements: Vernon, Lamont, Reid, Brown, Welsh, Swinson, Strauss

  5. I don’t think this is the strongest side we have going – are Lee Jones or McGuigan better than Visser? I’d rather have seen Kinghorn on the bench that McGuigan. Are CdP or Hamilton really better than Strauss? Is Gilchrist better than Cummings?

    I’m hoping it’s going to be like the Aus v Scot game in June, but I’m fairly certain it’ll just be Twickers mkII. That said, no-one thought Ireland would do them in Chicago or that the Lions (whatever the circumstances) would beat them in the second test, so there’s hope!

      1. It seems odd to leave two relatively experienced players who’ve done well this year out in favour of newbies in a team that’s lacking experience and playing the no. 1 team in the world.

    1. Mixed views on this team selection.

      Relieved Du Preez is in at 8. He is the only real 8 option we have in the current squad. Wilson is a bench player at best.

      Pyrgos on bench… SIGH!… the only ‘management’ he’ll do is manage to give the ball away for no reason.

      Thought Cummings would have been better bench lock option. Gilchrist starting to play again tho.

      Thought Bradbury might get a shot….but Hamilton deserves a shot and will be good to see what he can do…likewise McGuigan.

      Miracle if we win…. a good team performance a reasonable scoreline will be acceptable tho. NZ are a great team.

      1. Time for CdP to step up. He lost his way, but just (and I mean just) might be on the recovery trail.

        I,for one, hope he plays well. At his best, a better option than Denton or Strauss IMHO. Regrettably his best has been missing for a while.

    2. Visser’s no show at Twickenham proved he isn’t fit for the international game. I would assume that Strauss is now paying for his lack of application for Glasgow in many games during 2016.

      1. Is the same true of Dunbar and Jones? Or Russell? Or Seymour? Or… No-one enhanced their reputation that day.

      2. Visser didn’t make a tackle or carry for the first 60 minutes when backs were against the wall and players were dropping like flies. That in itself is pretty shameful but when you consider that he had been running his mouth in the press in the lead up…..

      3. I’m not saying he had a good match, I’m saying basing your opinion of him on an anomalous match is I’ll-advised.

      4. Both Strauss and Visser give the impression they arent giving their all. They are picked for their physique as much as anything…and yet most people feel they walk off the field having not been aggressive enough or did enough for the team. GT has every right to omitt them. Its a high level team contact sport.

      5. Visser still has one of the best strike rates of any current Scottish player – certainly only bracketed alongside Seymour among our wings. I don’t think people pick him for his physique as he is well known as a bit soft. Strauss hasn’t lived up to expectations but games against the likes of France have shown his potential at this level (like Denton). It’s not like Wilson is bossing every game – we can’t afford to ignore him if he recaptures some form, we don’t have the depth to cold shoulder good players.

    1. He was probably too injured to make the initial squad. Doubt they’d call him up for next weekend if he is proven fit without a similar player dropping out, but you never know.

  6. Pretty decent team given the injuries we have had to deal with. That backline will create (and hopefully take) chances against New Zealand.

    As for my expectations for the game, had we our full strength team then I would have expected a close game that could have gone either way, but with the injuries I would be pleased to keep the All Blacks within 2 converted tries.

    As an aside, I really struggle to comprehend the constant calls for Lee Jones to be jettisoned in favour of any other winger. For me Seymour and Jones would be the starting wingers even if everyone was fit. Jones is dependable in defence, fairly good under the high ball, he reads the game well, and nearly always breaks the first tackle. And he can offload too!

  7. This side has really nice balance to it and is full of form players.

    The front row might be inexperienced, but they are big and strong – MacInally (on form and impressed with temperament), Marfo (on form and impressed with temperament), Fagerson (quality and likes a fight). We might be missing Nell, but it is not unbalanced, as when you have Fagerson alongside Dell or, at Glasgow, Bhatti. With Gray and Toolis the whole front 5 are huge, with another big man Du Preez behind (who has form on Strauss and Denton, if not the proven quality). I even like the lighter weight flankers, as we’ve got blindsides in the front row, need some turnover ball, a few offloads in the tackle and it’s Watson and the captain, especially now he seems to be less of a penalty machine.

    As for the backs they pick themselves – Price, Russell, Dunbar, Jones, Seymour, Hogg are our first choice players in those positions bar none, including Taylor, Bennett.

    The only worry across the entire pitch for me is LJ. I’d have preferred a Maitland, Visser, Taylor. But again he’s been on form.

    The bench might not be designed for impact, but there are options and back up, and we’re playing at home. I would expect to see Berghan for Fagerson once he has run himself into the ground or if the scrum goes backwards too often. And McGuigan for LJ. Horne as cover at 10 or a second playmaker option. Can’t say I’ve seen much of Hamilton but his review are glowing so there is maybe something there as well.

    I get there are missing players, but short of an extra winger and Nel (only if on form) I’m not sure the team improves.

    Looking forward to this one, a chance to show Gatland he is a pr*ck…

  8. There are much wiser posters than I who are predicting a torrid experience for this young and inexprienced team. So would not disagree too much with those views. There are a few things I’d like to see, irrespective of the result. Finn Russell really needs to manage the game flawlessly and vary the plays a bit, particularly with some pinpoint kicking deep into the ABs 22 that puts them under real pressure. The no look passes are brilliant when they come off but we are going to need more than that to keep the score respectable . Oh , and on the subject of kicking, no aimless box kicks which give the opposition clean posession to mount a counter attack (easy for me to say I know-when you are under pressure in your own 22 it ain’t that simple to truck it up the field of play). Stable scrum and lineout with effective maul defence-needs to be a given. No restart shennanigens. Ferocious (on the offside line) tackling that stops the runner in his tracks and makes him think twice next time. But not giving away loads of penalties either. Intelligent play around the breakdown and tackle area too. The bench players will really need to step up to the mark big style (best of luck Luke Hamilton!) and CDP needs to live up to his original promise. We know we can score tries given half a chance so a coule of decent tries at least would be nice. There, I’ve gone and talked us up again.

  9. Well I hope the Scotland squad won’t be reading any of the pessimism and negativity on this thread. For instance, number 6 world ranked side (albeit at less than full strength) to lose by 30 points at home to an AB side that’s already lost three matches in a year would be ‘as expected’? No it wouldn’t – because it would mean we’ve stood still or started to decline, and that would make me sick as a pig.
    I’m no crazed optimist (well, not since the Twickenham debacle) but I’m very much expecting to see a performance from this side that fully justifies our ranking against a very, very good side that are by no means perfect and can show real vulnerability under pressure.
    Not saying we will win, but am still saying we can. Otherwise, what’s the point of turning up?
    On a specific player point, good to see CdP given a chance to impress in a high profile Test. I don’t think he was anywhere near top form last season, so hoping he’s recaptured that level.

    1. I would say losing by 30 points is ‘as expected’ because we are missing our first-choice TH (Nel), one of our first-choice locks (R. Gray), first-and-second-choice hookers (Brown, Ford), first-second-and-third-choice LH (Dickinson, Dell, Sutherland), a variety of other near-certainties in the 23 (Taylor, Hardie, Maitland, Laidlaw as examples) and have a relatively weak and inexperienced bench to call upon.

      On that basis, given the clear quality that the ABs are fielding, I would ‘expect’ us to be within 10-12 points going into the last quarter, but they will pull away as we make the necessary substitutions. I would love to be wrong, and I am going to Murrayfield in hope, but I am also being entirely realistic about the difficulty ahead of us. In 2014, we lost by 8 points when we fielded as strong a team as we had available and they had the 2nd XIV plus Dan Carter out.

      1. Then again, hooker is a position where there is no first choice and on first impressions MacInally is showing more composure than any other; Nel sounds like a big difference but it isn’t if off form, Fagerson is improving all the time, and there are strong scrummagers alongside him; Marfo, I suspect already, will be the find of the season – it really doesn’t sound like he is a typical journeyman (sports scholarship & head boy to leading English rugby school; Quins for 6 years, but with injuries and Joe Marler and then Kyle Sinckler; London Welsh go bust; snapped up by Bath for a season – you just need to look at the guy and you know he’s stronger that most other players on the pitch). Taylor probably wouldn’t displace either Dunbar or Jones in a game like this. Maitland for LJ, yes. Laidlaw for Price, no, not for the rugby we aspire to play. So, really, we’re talking about Maitland for LJ to get the strongest team possible.

        Also, England would be aiming to win every game against the All Blacks. We should be aiming to win every game against England, especially at home. And, likewise, we should be aiming to beat the All Blacks.

        This set of players have never lost to the All Blacks.

      2. R. Gray no longer necessarily an automatic pick. Nel wasn’t on fire before last week’s injury. McInally is looking good. Marfo has streaked up the inside rail at LH. You can perm seven from about 15 high quality players behind the scrum when fit and still have a proper international back line capable of taking on anyone.
        Things have moved very quickly on the player quality front – possibly too quickly for us fans to keep up with. Really good players are forcing themselves into Test contention these days, contrasted with a few years ago when the cupboard was fairly bare.
        This is Scotland 17 not 14 and we are a wholly different proposition for opponents now.
        Like you, I will be there on Saturday, and I’m expecting to hear more than 60000 Scotland fans giving the team full throttle support in a match that we can actually win. Like Ireland, the Lions and Australia did.
        Mone Scotland!

      3. Opinions, eh? Respectively disagree on the whole, though understand where you’re coming from.

        My principal concern is that our squad for Saturday is not proven international quality for the entire 23. Without the horrendous injury list, I would be expecting us to compete to within 5-10 points. BUT, given the position we are in, I don’t think it is unrealistic that the ABs will pull away in the final quarter. If we are within a score at 60 minutes, that will be a good performance.

  10. I can only hope that Naholo doesn’t make Lee Jones look like roadkill after he’s run over him once or twice. Jones is a good player, but he’s an ex scrum half up against a 22 stone beast. He needs support in this, so I hope Scotland have tactics to suit. Same with Fifita at 6. If he manages to get up a head of steam, none of our back row will catch him. Serious gas for a back rower.
    I’m going to be watching this through my fingers.

    1. Do people have Waisake Naholo mixed up with Nemani Nadolo?
      Naholo is only 2 inches taller and a few kilos heavier than Jones

    2. Jones is not the obvious choice , we should look to the positives and while his height brings vulnerabilities his speed and agility are not in question.

      I can see him making his tackles however we should not forget we still have our last line of defense.

      This is the kind of game where some will standout among the best in the world.

  11. Hopefully the ref plays fair at the scrum. On Saturday overhead cameras clearly showed Hames boring in on Slimani right in front of Gardiner yet Slimani ended up with a YC.

    Scotland will have to be almost perfect to be competitive but the ABs have shown a few weaknesses this year. Damian McKenzie isn’t the greatest under the high ball and the French scrum half had good success with sniping runs last weekend.

  12. I think there are a few people on this thread who need to remember the ABs are still human! Even in our worst days of the 2000’s, early 2010’s I would never have thought a 30 point loss to the ABs was acceptable.

    The boys are going to have to be more physical and aggressive than they’ve been in a very long time. Execution and tactics are going to have to be flawless. But it can be done and we should go into this game expecting to be in with a shoot of victory come the last 5 minutes.

  13. I do worry about Lee Jones, if there is a player who you want up against a beast like Naholo it’s probably Maitland who has the searing pace to go with being rock solid in the tackle. Lee Jones didn’t let us down last week though so I remain hopeful.

    I don’t think the bench is as weak as touted either. Bhatti and Turner may be a worry at scrum time but with the excitement of their debuts out the way should offer no let in terms of impact in the loose. Berghan is probably our best scrummaging prop bar none and has really stepped up his work in defence and in the loose this season. Gilchrist is a former captain who will provide leadership and has begun to find some form again. Hamilton is an unknown to some of us but those in the know were happy to see him selected in the squad having seen him at a Leicester. Pyrgos attempts to play the role he’s asked which is to close it out. Horne pretty much unchallenged as backup 10 and McGuigan we know is solid at worst and his try scoring down South suggests he’s got a lot more to give as well.

    In terms of the starting line up the two changes are the exact ones we all suggested would or should happen after the Samoa game so no faults found there. Looking forward to a big game from CdP.

  14. Great team selected. Toony has selected on form and I think the policy of selecting settled units (i.e. the back line) is a game changer for us. Ok, NZ are fantastic but they are at Murrayfield and we in the crowd can make a difference. Luke Hamilton looks very exciting. Two things will determine this test match: tactics on the day and our fitness levels between 65 and 80 minutes. I am hugely hopeful that there is no one smarter than Tooney with tactics and the work Glasgow have done in the pre-season will keep us in it with 5 minutes to go. Come on Scotland!!

    1. Can’t help but think if he was selecting on form then Visser and Strauss would be in there. I know Vissers being frozen out at Quins but the past couple of weeks before the squad was picked he was running tries in and the other wingers are nowhere near his quality other than Seymour. This feels like a B+ side due to injuries so ignoring established players on form is strange. I don’t think our pack will last five minutes against NZ. The pod were spot on this week about sacrificing bulk for stamina. Problem is the top sides have both

  15. Hope Toony has done a better job with the self belief of the players than he has with most commentators on this blog! Yes it’s a huge test but I’m not going to try to predict an “acceptable” losing margin – I just want all 23 Scots to give it their best and even enjoy the challenge. However, I do hope Barclay manages to last most if not all the match otherwise the pack is looking a little short on experience. C’mon Scotland!

    1. Well said, the best advice he can give is go out and enjoy the game. They are playing the best in the world , what is not to like. I am hoping we do something cheeky like the Dunbar try against Ireland, that would get the crowd into the game.

  16. I will be “assuming the position” – peeping over the back of the couch. I have no great expectations of a win, but I will be really disappointed if we don’t just give it a really good lash.

  17. Just thought, if/when Scotland beat the ABs, the player ratings will be really easy so thought I would save Rory & Co the effort:
    15. Stuart Hogg – 9 (would have been 10 possibly 11, but haircut restricts maximum marks awardable);
    14. Tommy Seymour – 10 Awesome!!!
    13. Huw Jones – 10 Awesome!!!
    12. Alex Dunbar – 10 Legend!!!
    Etc. etc.
    BTW I also looked up Lee Jones’ weight and surprised to see it listed as 93 kg/ 14 st 9. Same as Hamish apparently….really?!? In fact, according to Wiki, a lot of players in the current Warriors squad are that same weight – that’s modern player conditioning for you or has the old Salter apparatus just got stuck?

  18. Will Scotland EVER beat New Zealand?

    Here is your guide….looking at overall win% vs long-term rankings points deficit for all 600 Tier-1 v Tier-1 matches through 2003 to 2014:

    Deficit of 14 or more : 0% — didn’t happen in 600 games (e.g. Scotland 2011-2014 vintage)
    Deficit of 11: 5% — this is about where Scotland are now relative to NZ
    Deficit of 9: 10%
    Deficit of 7: 20% — this is about where Ireland are at now relative to NZ
    Deficit of 4: 30%
    Plus or Minus 2: about evens
    Surplus of 4: 70%
    (and so on)

    So, if we play NZ about 5 times a decade, we need to be good enough to be ranked mid-80s (within 7), through that period to expect a win (20% chance)….With the current crop of players this seems feasible but difficult.

    If we remain in the low 80s (deficit of 10 or so) we have only 5% chance — so we can expect a win “once in a lifetime”…

    If we retreat to the 70s, it comes down to a total fluke (or maybe dodgy hotel food).

    1. Thanks Alanyst. Staying up late with a spreadsheet? Did you take into account the home advantage (+3)?

      1. I live in Australia, so skiving at work..

        No home advantage adjustment….it’s just 10 year average rating difference vs 10 yr head to head win/loss.

        So I guess this assumes nobody had very skewed stats

  19. I watched the Dunbar lineout try again this week. (trying to cheer myself up in advance of tomorrow) and i’m 99% certain you can hear Poite saying “Nice!” Just after awarding it. Anyone else hear that or am I imagining it?
    This was supposed to be in reply to Bulldogs comment above but I’ve clearly messed up the reply button thing……Doh!

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