KO 5.30 at BT Murrayfield
Saturday 29th October 2022
Live on Amazon Prime Video
There was a four-year gap between meetings of Scotland and Australia before the visitors rolled into Edinburgh last November. Now, less than twelve months later, the Wallabies are back for what will be their 20th Test match at Murrayfield.
Streaks in the Scotland v Australia at Murrayfield fixture:
- 2017-2021 Scotland won 2
- 2013-2016 Australia won 2
- 2009-2012 Scotland won 1
- 1982-2008 Australia won 7
- 1958-1981 Scotland won 5
- 1947-1957 Australia won 1
- 1927-1946 Scotland won 1
The dark blues have won their last three in a row against the Aussies at all venues (Murrayfield 2021, Murrayfield 2017, Sydney Football Stadium 2017). Scotland have never previously managed four successive wins in the 95 years that these sides have been playing each other.
Australia Scouting Report
After a tough three-Test series against England and then The Rugby Championship, Australia have dropped to an all-time low of ninth in the World Rugby rankings. The Wallabies haven’t been helped by playing 7 of their last 9 fixtures against sides ranked in the top five but no matter the strength of opposition 3 wins from their last 12 games is not a great return for a nation that has reached four World Cup finals, winning two of them.
In fact, apart from a seemingly Quade Cooper-inspired purple patch in 2021 that saw them turn over world champions South Africa twice in a week and win 5 matches in a row, victories have been rare currency indeed for Australia since the last RWC in Japan. Outwith that short-lived hot streak, they have won just 6 of their other 24 games from 2020 to 2022.
Scotland’s record at Murrayfield against sides ranked 9th or lower in the world (since the rankings were introduced nearly twenty years ago) is won 23, lost 3 with the defeats coming against 14th ranked Italy in 2015; 9th ranked Wales in 2009; and 12th ranked Italy in 2007.
The Argentina Analogy
Both of these countries tackled the Pumas over the southern hemisphere winter – Scotland winning one and losing two in July and Australia managing a win and a loss in August. The Wallabies dominated territory and possession in their first encounter with Argentina but still had to rely on a near total meltdown late on by the home side who led until the 65th minute.
A week later, the Aussies were comprehensively beaten in San Juan – a record win for Argentina over Australia in fact, with a try count 7 – 2 in the Pumas’ favour. Losing 17 turnovers and conceding 13 penalties were key issues for the Wallabies as they were overpowered by their hosts.
Scotland weren’t able to make ground consistently with ball in hand during their three Test series, averaging just 266m carried per game (Australia averaged 461m in their fixtures against Argentina). When they were playing well though the Scots were very efficient at translating this into points scored, bagging four tries in a comfortable win in the second Test and then another four in a third Test where they should have seen out the series victory with something to spare.
Scotland’s setpiece was at the root of much of their misfortune in South America. Across the three Tests they lost a dozen lineouts – 6 of them in the final game alone – and half a dozen scrums. That level of imprecision is unlikely to cut it if the dark blues are to have a successful Autumn Nations Series, starting with the game against Australia on Saturday.
- The Australian scrum conceded 15 penalties in The Rugby Championship – the most in the tournament.
- In their series against England, the Wallabies averaged 26 defenders beaten per game – the most of any of the sides involved in the major cross hemisphere three-Test series.
- Australia were the only side in The Rugby Championship not to score a try from a lineout maul.
This will be the 9th time the two sides have met in Scotland this century. The head to head looks like this from the home side’s perspective:
L L L W L L W W
Most recent meeting in Edinburgh:
Scotland 15 – 13 Australia
(Jump to 1:50 to enjoy seeing Nic White go flying…)
11 – defenders beaten by Scotland’s starting back 3 of Duhan van der Merwe, Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg – more than all the rest of their teammates combined. Despite that trio running free, the home side struggled to break down a stuffy Australian defence and it took two short-range tries by forwards to eke out a very narrow win. Scottish fans will be looking forward to seeing if the top two finishers of the Townsend era – Graham and van der Merwe – are more involved on the scoresheet this time round.
The Scottish Rugby Blog match report from that game is here.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referee 1: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referee 2: Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)
This will be a new experience for Mr Pearce who has previously only ever refereed Scotland in matches against Italy. The English official is one of the world’s top refs (he must surely be in the running for next year’s RWC final) but will no doubt still be able to rely on some expert free advice from a large proportion of the Murrayfield crowd!
Scotland lost the penalty count in 7 matches in a row prior to the summer before drawing the first Test against Argentina and winning this stat in the latter two games. Australia averaged 14 penalties conceded per game during The Rugby Championship. Mr Pearce’s tendency is towards low penalty counts but these two sides may well test his patience.
Scotland’s previous games with Mr Pearce in charge:
- 2019 – beat Italy (H)
Penalties: 15 (For 4 – 11 Against)
Cards: 1 YC (Simon Berghan)
- 2020 – beat Italy (A)
Penalties: 19 (For 12 – 7 Against)
- 2022 – beat Italy (A)
Penalties: 15 (For 7 – 8 Against)
Scotland: Ollie Smith, Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Blair Kinghorn, Ali Price; Pierre Schoeman, Dave Cherry, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie (capt), Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, WP Nel, Glen Young, Jack Dempsey, George Horne, Ross Thompson, Damien Hoyland.
Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Tate McDermott, Tom Wright, Bernard Foley; James Slipper (capt), David Porecki, Allan Alaalatoa, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini.
Replacements: Folau Fainga’a, Matt Gibbon, Taniela Tupou, Ned Hanigan ,Pete Samu, Nic White, Noah Lolesio, Jock Campbell.
Part II of the preview, including the head to heads, will follow shortly.